Episode 1307

In The Eyes Of A Child

by: Katherine Freymuth and Helen Gerhard







Scott Bakula as 

Dr. Sam Beckett

Dean Stockwell as 

Admiral Albert Calavicci




Elijah Woods as Mimi Kuzyk as Dean Stockwell as
Stephen Beckett Donna Eleese-Beckett Dante


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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 ones 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 Sam floated in the blue haze he let his mind wander a bit.  Ever since that time at the coffee shop, he’d been thinking about the relationship between his leaping and his family.  He knew that both were important and that somehow he had to find a balance between the two.


He also accepted to some extent that he had the ability to control his destiny.  But try as he might, he just couldn’t seem to do it consistently.  He’d been able to control it that time when he’d convinced Beth Calavicci that Al would return to her.  That had created a timeline in which Sam knew that his friend was content.  Not always happy, mind you.  Sam had heard too many times the issues that Al had to face with a family of five girls, their husbands and beaus, and their children.  But it was obvious that Al genuinely enjoyed these “problems” which was much different than when Project Quantum Leap started.


Sam wondered if anyone really remembered what the timeline was like then.  So much had realigned since tat point in Time.  Sam knew that somehow Ziggy was keeping track.  Sometimes he would know about something that had happened, but usually his Swiss-cheesed mind kept him from remembering what was happening in the current Project timeline, much less the original timeline.  Al explained to him how he experienced it: sometimes when he walked out of the Imaging Chamber, something would have changed.  It was usually something small, like a picture being up on a different wall, or Tina’s nail polish being a different color.  But there were definitely changes.  The big stuff seemed to realign in the memories of the Project staff so that, eventually, the big changes were what had always been.


Sam remembered another timeline vividly - the one where he’d never stepped into the Accelerator, the one that he had purposely controlled his leap away from…back to this one.  Sam still wasn’t sure how to come to terms with his conflicting feelings.  All that he knew was that he’d rather be here with these particular problems than a fifty-three year old confirmed and lonely bachelor with a cat and dog as his live-in companions.


He wished he could talk to Esther, the psychiatrist he’d met in the coffee shop, again.  She had really helped him to see what had been before his eyes all along.  He knew now that there would be tough leaps, but that they wouldn’t all be hard.  He also knew there would be sabbaticals occasionally although he wasn’t sure exactly what that meant.  As to his family and friends, he still felt the pain of being so disconnected from them.  He knew that somehow he would have to find a way to play a greater role in the lives of those he loved.  Somehow, there was an answer; he just couldn’t for the life of him see it.


Suddenly, Sam felt the familiar pull which he knew was the precursor to leaping into someone.  Where am I going now?   Well…once more into the fray…


Sam found himself in a metal tunnel on his hands and knees.  The space seemed really small so he figured he must be a small man or possibly even a child.  He decided he should just keep going in the same direction and find out where he ended up.  A short time later, he came out of what he realized was an air vent and entered a small laboratory that looked somehow familiar.  Looking around the room he saw a glass front on one of the pieces of equipment.  I might catch a reflection in that, he thought as he walked over.


When he saw his reflection he was totally floored.


“Ohhhh, boooooy,” was all that would leave his lips.




Project Quantum Leap

Stallions Gate, NM


Sam continued to look into the glass panel.  “I’ve leaped into my own son!” Sam exclaimed.  “OHHHH, BOOYYY is right!  Stephen must be in the Waiting Room!  I wonder how much time is separating us.  With his knowledge of the place, that’s going to make things interesting whatever time he’s in!”


Sam quickly got his bearings as to where he was in the Project.  Rushing out, he just about knocked over Sammy Jo as she came down the hall.


“Whoa there, little brother!  What I have I told you about running through the halls?  Someone could get hurt.”  Sammy Jo wasn’t mad, just concerned.


“I know but it’s really important that I find Al right now,” Sam said breathless from the run.


“When did you drop the ‘Uncle’, Stephen?  You know, you’re still a little kid.  You can’t just call him Al.  Anyways, he likes being an ‘Uncle.’  Makes him feel like he’s blood family,” explained Sammy Jo.


“Yeah…sorry…I’ll try to remember that…but I really gotta go right now!” and with that Sam bolted down the hallway towards the Control Room.




Ziggy had just announced that Dr. Sam Beckett had indeed leaped but was being very selective with any other data, making Al cross to say the least.


“What do you mean this leap is just too close?  Where and when IS Sam?” Al demanded.


“It’s possible I may have that answer for you,” came Sam’s voice from behind him.


Al twirled around quickly, looking into the smiling face of Dr. Samuel Beckett standing there in his Fermi suit.


“Sam…is it you?  Are you back again, buddy?”  The look of hope on Al’s face was tangibly shining bright.


“I can say with 100% accuracy that Dr. Beckett’s body is NOT inhabited by Doctor Beckett,” Ziggy stated loudly.


“What exactly is THAT supposed to mean you bucket of bolts.  You’ve NEVER been 100% certain of anything,” Al retaliated.


Ziggy was ready with her comeback.  “Well, Admiral, it is obvious that again your advanced age is affecting your memory.  In fact, I can…”


The rest of Ziggy’s response was cut off as a whining sound left Sam’s lips “Would you two quit it?  I mean, aren’t friends supposed to be nice to each other.  That’s what Mom always says.”


Confused, Al answered, “I’d never heard Thelma say that.”


“Uncle Al…Thelma was Grandma’s name, not Mom’s,” was the petulant reply.


Al just about hit the floor.  “STEPHEN!!!!”


“I TOLD you it wasn’t Doctor Beckett, Admiral,” Ziggy said with arrogance dripping in her voice.


“Dom, center me on Sam. I need to get to the bot…” Al started but never finished as the form of Stephen came rushing around the corner.


“Al…I need to talk with you NOW!”


Ziggy piped up again stating emphatically “Now THAT is Doctor Beckett!”


“Huh? What? I don’t understand.” Al was obviously about to lose it.  “How could they both be here at the same time?”


“This leap is taking place in real time,” Ziggy explained.  “My father has returned to the Project.  He is currently residing in my brother, Stephen.  Therefore, my brother is currently residing in my father.  This should be obvious to you, Admiral.  Or do you need me to explain it again?” She was really laying it on thick.


Al stood silent a moment. What is this, some familial relationship from the West Virginia hills?  “NO! That WON’T be necessary.  Oh, God…we can’t let Donna know about this.  Ziggy, contact Dr. Elesee and have her meet Beth at our quarters.  Then get Beth on the line for me stat.”  Al was used to things going a bit ca-ca, but this was ridiculous! 


“Admiral, I remind you that I’m NOT your secretary or administrative assistant.  I am a parallel-hybrid computer capable of….”


“Ziggy, just shut up and do what I say just this once.  We need to do some damage control and I need for you to help me here.”  Al was almost pleading.


“Fine, Admiral. Just so you know that I’m only doing this because I realize this situation must be addressed.”  There was a short pause at which point Ziggy continued “Dr. Elesee is on her way to your quarters and your wife is holding on the Control Room phone.”


Al picked it up the phone and spoke into the receiver.  “Beth, darling, can you please take Donna shopping or something?  No…nothing has happened. I just think that… ah… under the circumstances… What circumstances?  Beth, darling…we’ve been married forty-six years now. Trust me when I say you DON’T want to know and Donna REALLY won’t want to know… Okay… Yeah, take my credit card… You want to go WHERE?  Ten Thousand Waves? Isn’t that the ritzy spa just outside of Sante Fe?...  Okay, yeah…That’s fine. Just GO!... Love you too.” He hung up the receiver, saying, “Geez, this is gonna cost me an arm and possibly two legs and a spleen!”


“Uncle Al, why did you send Mom away?  Don’t you think she’ll want to see Dad?” Stephen said.


“Trust me, Stephen, this isn’t the right time for that,” said Al rubbing his temples.  “God, I think I have the mother of all headaches.  Ziggy, why has Sam leaped into Stephen?  And why can’t I see both the aura and body on both of them?”


“Admiral, I have no idea why my father is here.  First off, as I’ve explained before, this is real time.  I have no data to base a prediction on.  I speculate that since they are both present in the Project, you can only see the aura of the person inhabited, not the inhabitee.  Second, again as I’ve already explained, my father currently inhabits my brother and my brother currently inhabits my father.  This is a family matter and I don’t want to be in the middle of it,” Ziggy stated with absolute finality.


“Can’t you just guess?” asked Al weakly, grasping at straws.


“I do not guess, Admiral. I predict based on probabilities and there are none to use.  Therefore, the best I can do is suggest that my father may have one of those ‘gut feelings’ he so often uses to ignore my recommendations.  Since I will not be needed, I think this would be a good time to run a full self-diagnostic.  Please let me know when there is a change in the status quo.” With that, Ziggy went offline.


“Geez, Louise!” said Al. “I don’t ever think I’ve seen the old girl this skittish.  What a scaredy-cat!”


Ziggy’s light shone a bit brighter. “I heard that, Admiral.  Just because I’m running a self-diagnostic doesn’t mean I’m not still monitoring.” Again the lights faded.


“You crazy…” Al looked like he was about to kick the console, but then thought better of it.


“Al…I don’t think Ziggy’s suggestion is off-base,” Sam said plainly.  “Perhaps if Stephen and I talk for a little while, the reason I’m here will become clear.”


This situation reminded Al of that old Disney picture that the girls used to watch…what was its name?  Oh yeah… “Freaky Friday”.  Well…it wasn’t Friday but this was about the freakiest thing that he could imagine.  What could GFTW have in mind for this leap?


“Dad?” Stephen asked, clearly uncomfortable. “Would it be okay if I changed out of the Fermi suit?  It feels a little tight.”  He was fidgeting a bit, trying to find room in the suit that just wasn’t there.


Sam thought a moment “Yeah.  Okay.  If you’re going to be out of the Waiting Room anyways, I don’t think it will be a problem.  Sure, Stephen, go get comfortable.”


“Uh…Dad? Can you come with me?” requested Stephen almost sheepishly.  “Mom doesn’t like me in her closets or drawers and that’s where your clothes are.”


“Yeah…I guess that would be best. Let’s go.”  He walked over to his son and they walked out of the Control Room together.


Al watched the two leave, pondering the sight for a moment before speaking to no one in particular. “In one way, it’s a beautiful sight to see them together again, but then you think about what’s happening…well, I just wish I could wake up from this nightmare!” he said emphatically.  “Dom, do you have a couple of ibuprofen?  On second thought, just give me all you have.”


Dom just nodded as he dug into his lab coat pocket, pulled out a bottle of ibuprofen, and tossed it over to Al.  This was gonna be a heck of a ride.




This had to be one of the strangest leaps I had ever had.  I didn’t have any idea why I was there and I sure as hell didn’t understand WHY I currently inhabited the aura of my son.  One thing this leap was pointing out to me was how different the Project looked from Stephen’s point of view.  He had certainly grown up in an adult’s world without any concessions to a child’s presence.  All of the water fountains were too high, I had to reach up a bit to hit a light switch, and most of the food in the cafeteria catered to adult tastes.  But my “gut” was telling me it wasn’t the physical environment I was there for.  There was something else nagging at the back of my mind.  I could only hope that my time with Stephen would bring that something into focus.


Stephen and Sam had gone to the Beckett/Elesee quarter’s master bedroom to find some clothes to replace the Fermi suit.  Sam had picked out a pair of jeans and flannel shirt for Stephen to wear.  However, when Stephen put on the jeans, he still complained about them being “too tight.”  So Sam went back and found a pair of Dockers with a little more room.  Stephen accepted with an “Okay, they’ll do.”


“Uh…Stephen.  I guess the best plan would be to go about your day.  You’re going to have to show me how you spend your time,” said Sam, figuring that should provide him with more information to determine what needed to be fixed.  “Let’s go check out your room first since that’s where you start your day.”


“Most of the time I start my day there unless I’ve fallen asleep in my lab.  Mom knows I’m okay anywhere in the Project as long as Ziggy can find me.  That’s the rule: I can’t go anywhere that Ziggy can’t find me,” Stephen told him, hiding the fact the he had indeed found a few places that couldn’t be monitored.  But he only went to those places when his Dad was in the middle of a leap and his mother wasn’t likely to ask Ziggy to find him then, since Ziggy would be too tied up with helping his Dad complete the leap.


They walked down the short hallway from the master bedroom to a slightly smaller room.  On the walls were maps and a large poster of the Periodic Table.  Along the shelves, a rock collection was displayed and a microscope was stored.  In the corner was a top-of-the-line digital electronic telescope with automatic locating and tracking capabilities.  The bed was neatly made and covered with a simple green bedspread.  A desk and chair were in the room as well, with both a regular and magnifying light attached to the desk.  Sam walked over to the bookcase and scanned the shelves.  It was filled with the works of Heinlein, Asimov, Ellison, and many other classic and newer books of the Sci-Fi genre.  There was a copy of “A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets” along with a slew of physics, chemistry, biology, and computer science texts.  On the top shelf, Sam spied a collection of Spiderman and X-Men comics.


“I see you like comic books,” he commented. “I used to read a lot of Superman and Batman when I was kid.”


“Yeah, those are all right, but the Marvel comics really have better graphic depictions and the storylines are, I think, better developed,” answered Stephen.  “You know, if you’re still here tonight, maybe we can check out the stars.  There’s supposed to be a fairly rare conjunction.  Best viewing will be around ten o’clock .”


“We’ll see,” Sam told him softly.  He was beginning to see a pattern that he wasn’t sure he liked and decided he should continue his search a bit further.  “Stephen, where are your toys?”


“These ARE my toys, Dad,” laughed Stephen.


“I mean like action figures and things like that.”


“Oh…I don’t play with those things anymore.  They’re for little kids.  Don’t you like my microscope?” asked Stephen.


“It is a nice one.  Stephen…what do you do for fun?”


“Oh, mostly I work in my lab.  Let’s go there now!” Stephen exclaimed and he walked out of the room.  Sam followed him, watching him closely.


As they walked over to the same laboratory that Sam had climbed into from the air vent after he had leaped in, Al met them in the hallway.


“Going to see Stephen’s lab?” Al asked.


“Yeah.  I’ve got some ideas brewing about this leap, but I’m not totally sure yet,” replied Sam.


“I’m working on another improvement to Ziggy’s holographic matrix,” Stephen explained.  “Uncle Al said she could sometimes be a bit distracting.  I’m not sure what he means exactly.  Maybe you both can help me,” he suggested innocently.


Sam looked over to his son, but saw only his own body.  All at once, it hit him: the room with all the grown-up toys and the laboratory where Stephen sometimes fell asleep working at all hours.  Hearing the words was the last piece of the puzzle; Stephen was too “adult” for an eleven year old.  Sam’s gut feeling was setting off alarm bells big time.


“Stephen, do you play any sports, ride a bike, do any kid stuff?  Do you have any friends?” he questioned.


“I used to do some of that with a few of the kids who were on that bus.  You know the ones I was supposed to be with when you were here last,” answered Stephen.  “But now they’re gone and I figure that stuff just isn’t important anymore.  I’ve got lots of friends here: Uncle Al, Sammy Jo, Tina, Dom… You know, your friends.”


Sam was concerned about the cavalier attitude that Stephen seemed to have about the bus crash.  He decided he’d have a chat with Verbena after he left the lab.  He was no expert on child psychology but somehow, it didn’t seem right that Stephen could just brush off something like that.


“I think having friends outside the Project is important.  Perhaps we should see about getting you out more,” Sam told his son.


“Oh, give the kid a break, Sam,” said Al nonchalantly.  “He’s doing fine.  You really don’t have anything to worry about.”


“Oh, yeah? Well, I AM worried,” Sam explained emphatically.  “Stephen needs to develop some outside activities and not all of them should be academic related.”


“I’m telling you he’s doing fine,” Al reiterated.  “Stephen and I are good buddies.  We’ve even gone to a baseball game or two.”


“Yeah…well…I think Stephen needs more than what he’s getting here at the Project.  When I was a kid, I was out riding horses, playing baseball, reading ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’, and helping my Dad on the farm.  My entire life didn’t revolve around physics and computers and such.  I had a workshop where I built things out of wood, not a laboratory where I was making novel strides in technology!”


“Oh, get off your high horse, Sam! You’re not here! I am!” 


Sam was about to say something back to Al, but stopped himself.  After a moment, he nodded his head softly.  “Yeah, you’re right.  I’m not here.”  Sam then continued, his voice becoming harder.  “I just thought you would have been watching Stephen better for me.  I’m his father and now I am here.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned through all these years of leaping, it’s that sometimes a parent needs to be a parent and not a friend.”


Al glared at him. “You don’t know the first thing about being a parent that I wasn’t there to help you out with,” he stated heatedly.  “Who was it that was showing you how to parent on all those leaps?  ME…based on all the years of experience I had raising FIVE daughters.  And talk about follow-up…You’ve never been around in any kid’s life very long.  Yeah…You’re one to talk about being a parent.” Without looking back, Al turned around sharply and, with a huff, marched out of the room.


Stephen had just stood there, dumb-founded.  He couldn’t believe that his father and Uncle Al were arguing about how he was being raised.  His Dad seemed mostly concerned that he didn’t have friends his own age.


“Dad, I do have one friend here that you don’t know about and he’s sort of my age…” Stephen started.


“Who could that be?” Sam asked, still somewhat perturbed with Al.


Stephen walked over to the workbench and picked up a handlink.  He hit a few buttons and a hologram appeared in the room.


“Hello, Stephen. How may I assist you today?” asked the hologram.


“Dad, I’d like you to meet Dante.  He’s my best friend here.  I built him myself.”





Sam stared at the hologram that had appeared in the room with them.  “This is your best friend?  A hologram?”  Sam felt a bit weak.


“Yeah…you know, like you and Uncle Al!  You’re best friends and he’s a hologram to you, unless you leap back here.  So I decided that I’d build myself a hologram too.”  Stephen was beaming brightly.


Sam’s fears were beginning to take shape.  He realized that from his own point of view, Stephen had functioned as an anchor to keep Donna at the Project.  He loved his son, of course, but he had never really considered what type of a life that Stephen was leading.  He knew everyone on the Project was a good and caring person and thus felt certain they all had Stephen’s best interests at heart.  But Stephen had an IQ on par with his father’s (if not even higher) and had grown up with this elite group of scientists that Sam had brought together for his life’s dream.  They would have found a colleague as young as Stephen to be an anomaly, but not necessarily abnormal.  They could have innocently rationalized Stephen’s childhood away.


When Stephen was born, Al and Beth’s youngest daughter had been the closest to his age, but even she was barely a teenager.  Stephen had grown up not with Duplos and Weebles for playthings (although he’d had those as well) but with the ideas and concepts that Project Quantum Leap provided.  Who knows what miraculous things Sam, himself, would have developed had he grown up in such a world, where his love of learning and science would have been nurtured on a daily basis!  But Sam had grown up on a working farm with parents who, although they did their best to meet Sam’s different needs, still expected him to be like anyone else on a farm, pulling his weight just like his siblings.


No, Sam had led a rather sheltered life from the world he would later take by storm, earning six doctorates including an M.D. in fewer years than many obtained their first doctorate; one could say that Sam was just making up for lost time.  But there was another part of Sam that had been nurtured on the farm.  Sam’s soul had been developed during those early years.  He’d been expected to fit into the farming community of Elk Ridge , Indiana .  He’d been fortunate that his parents had taken his gifts into consideration and had tried to keep up his intellectual side by buying books, taking him into the museums when they would occasionally go to the “big city,” and had fought to assure that he participated in any special programs that would further his understanding of the world.  Indeed the first real time off the farm alone was when he left for MIT at age 17 (although that had a sheltering effect of its own).  It wasn’t until he traveled to New York to play piano at Carnegie Hall when he was 19 that he was really off on his own.


So it was no surprise that Stephen had been making leaps in the technology that no one, not even Sam, had realized was possible.  But what was the cost?  Stephen was now a little adult with little or no ties the magic world of childhood.


Sam knew what it was like to want a friend who understood you.  He’d even had a sort of “imaginary friend” when he was a child, but he had outgrown the need for one as he learned to deal with the real world and developed friendships.  He’d never had many deep friendships, but the ones he did develop were based on strong bonds.


But Stephen had found a way to create something so far beyond an “imaginary friend,” it was scary.  This hologram could interact with him and Sam knew from experience how real the interactions with a hologram could be and how a hologram could fill many needs.  In his case, though, Al as a hologram was just another form of Al, his closest and dearest friend.  In Stephen’s case though…Oh, Lord, this felt like something out of “The Twilight Zone”.


“Stephen…Al’s hologram is really of a real person, just not at the same time or place.  He’s not a made-up entity,” Sam tried to explain his line of thinking to his son.


“I know that, Dad.  That’s why Dante is based on Uncle Al too!  I got a picture of Uncle Al when he was about my age and that’s why Dante looks like Uncle Al,” Stephen explained, so proud of his creation and sure that his Dad would be happy too.


“You WHAT?”  Sam started pacing around the lab.  Did Al KNOW about this?  Was he in on it?  Did Donna know?  He shook his head.  No…No, they wouldn’t allow this.  Would they?  “Ziggy, are you still monitoring?”


“Of course, Father.  Is there something you need?”


“Yes.  Please get Donna back here right away.  Let her know there’s a situation where we need her expertise.  And send Al back to Stephen’s lab.  There’s something we need to discuss.”  Sam had decided on a plan of action and he was going to make sure his son had a chance at as normal a life one could have with an IQ that was off the scales.


Then another thought hit Sam.  “Ziggy, did you know about Dante?”


“Well, in a manner of speaking, Father…yes.  Dante is based on the early work you did in creating me.  I believe that Master Stephen utilized an old program you named Zeus.  I knew that he had modified this program and I was monitoring when he activated this hologram.”  Ziggy was nothing if not detail-minded.


At that moment, Al walked back into the room, ready for round two, if it was necessary.  After all, he knew that Stephen was a bright kid and, although Stephen reminded him daily of Sam and how Sam must have been as a child, he also knew that the kid was doing fine.  Surely with five daughters raised - all successfully he might add - he knew better than Sam what parenthood was all about.


So it wasn’t surprising that Al’s first words, tinged with annoyance, were, “What do you want, Sam?”


“Did you know about THIS!” Sam demanded, pointing at Dante.


“Dad, Dante’s not a THIS…he’s a WHO!” complained Stephen.  This wasn’t going as well as he had hoped.  He was SURE his father would have been happy to see what he’d been able to do.


“A hologram of a kid? No, Sam, I’ve never seen this before but what’s the harm?” Al asked, still on Stephen’s defense.


“Look closer Al.  Look familiar?” pressed Sam.


Al frowned, staring at the hologram for a moment, before turning white as a sheet. “That… that’s me! That’s me as a kid!  Stephen…what have you done?”


“Uncle Al, you’re Dad’s best friend and you’re my friend, but you’re too old to play with.  You’re always in the Imaging Chamber or with Aunt Beth or talking with your daughters or… something.  I just figured this way, we could be best friends too.  Aren’t you happy I chose you?” asked Stephen, somewhat stricken at his “uncle’s” reaction.


“Oh, Sam…if I had known…” Al let the words trail off, rubbing his chin as he looked at the likeness of his younger self.


“Okay…well, now, you DO know and I think you can see where this needs to go,” Sam told his best friend before turning towards his son.  “Stephen, come with me. It’s time to get back into the Fermi suit.”


“Sorry, Dante,” Stephen murmured to the hologram.  “See you later. I’ve got to go now.”  He hit a button on the handlink and Dante disappeared.  He put the handlink back on the laboratory bench and walked out the door behind his father.




Ten minutes later, everyone was back in the Control Room.  Stephen was again wearing the Fermi suit.


“Stephen, go back into the Waiting Room.  Hopefully everything will be resolved soon,” Sam said plainly.


“But I don’t WANTA go back in there,” Stephen whined.  “I want to stay out here with you guys.”  Stephen took a second to think about what his father had just said.  “What do you mean resolved?”


“That’s for us to decide.  You’ll be informed of the plans when your mother and I have discussed this situation,” Sam said firmly.  “Now, go into the Waiting Room, young man.”


“Look who’s calling who a young man, Dad.  Remember I’m in your aura and you’re in mine.  I’m the one who’s the adult right now,” Stephen said with all the bravado he could manage, folding his arms over his chest in defiance.


Sam gave Stephen one of those infamous Beckett glares and, since they looked so much alike, it worked.  Stephen realized that he had stepped over the line with his father.  Tears sprang to his eyes and he started to cry.


“I’m sorry, Dad.  I didn’t mean to cause any trouble.  I just wanted you to be proud of me.” He turned and walked into the Waiting Room hearing the door swish behind him.


 “Master Stephen appears to be in some distress,” Ziggy announced.


Sammy Jo spoke up at that moment.  “Dad, did you have to be so rough on him?  He’s just a kid, after all.  I knew about Dante, but I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.  Stephen was just so lonely.  And I’ll remind everyone, if it wasn’t for Stephen after Connors started leaping, we would have been in a world of hurt.  Where do you think we found those ‘leap archives’ that allowed us to help Dad?”


“Sammy Jo, you’ve just started down the parenting road and believe me, there will be times in the future when you’ll have to be that ‘rough’ with Isabella because you can see what’s right for her,” explained Sam.  “It is never easy to take the hard-line with your children, but sometimes it is necessary.  I know that Stephen has been an asset to this project from a contributor’s standpoint.  But every time Al would show me something that Stephen had created when I couldn’t remember who Stephen was, I thought we were talking about an adult programmer, not a little boy…not my son.”  Sam’s voice cracked a bit at that point, but he went on.


“Sammy Jo, your childhood wasn’t exactly ‘normal.’  God, I wish I could take away those memories you must have of that sick woman’s actions.  That was not what I would want for my child.  But despite that, the way your mother and stepfather raised you and all that you’ve experienced have made you the wonderful woman that you are now.  I’ve stepped into your stepfather’s shoes; I know how you grew up.  I just want what’s best for my son, too.  Is that more than I should be asking for?” Sam asked quietly, looking into her eyes and seeing that Sammy Jo was beginning to understand the enormity of the responsibilities that she and Daniel had taken upon themselves in bringing Isabella into the world.


“Dad, I never thought about it that way.  I’m sorry.  I should have said something earlier.”


“You didn’t know.  And you were just looking out for your little brother the best way you knew how.  Tom did the same for me.  But, Sammy Jo…don’t you see? Stephen is more of a professional colleague than a little boy.  He’s only eleven years old and he acts like he’s thirty.  We’ve got to give him that chance we all had to be a kid and not worry about the things that adults do.  That’s our job.  There’ll be time enough for that when he’s really an adult.”  Sam stated this quietly but emphatically.


“Yeah…I guess you’re right,” she said acquiescing to his argument.  “But, I don’t think it would be a good idea to destroy Dante either.  After all, even if you see this situation as a bit whacked, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a real bond between them.  Maybe you can just wean Stephen off his dependence on Dante.”


“Let me go have a talk with Verbena about that.  I just want to make sure we’re not coddling him.  Sometimes weaning isn’t the best way to deal with things,” Sam commented bluntly as he turned to leave.  As an afterthought, however, he turned back. “Sammy Jo, I think that Stephen might be able to use his big sister’s shoulder to cry on.  Would you please stay with him in the Waiting Room?”


With nothing further to say to his daughter, Sam exited the Control Room in search of Dr. Verbena Beeks’ office




 “I wondered when you’d get here, Sam,” Verbena said quietly after answering the quiet knock on the door.  “I’ve been monitoring the situation from here, but figured I could step in if things started getting out of control.  You know, you’ve become quite good at reading people since you started leaping.  You might even be able to obtain another doctorate when you return.”


“Yeah…I guess that’s true.  But I never thought I’d be using that insight quite this way,” he answered.


“I’ve got to admit, though, it is a bit disconcerting to be seeing Stephen, but talking to you,” Verbena voiced her difficulty with the present circumstance.  Well, nobody said that Project Quantum Leap was like anyplace else on earth.  Being flexible wasn’t just a good idea; it was a prerequisite to working there.


“Verbena, why hasn’t anyone seen this as a problem before?  I mean, you’re one of the leading clinical psychiatrists in the field.  I don’t get it that you didn’t see this.” Sam was genuinely confused.


“Well, all I can say is…this situation was like boiling a frog.” That gained a peculiar look from Sam as Verbena continued.  “It happened so gradually that I think we all just saw it as normal, including me.  I mean, if Stephen had been acting pathological, then it would have been a different story.  But he seemed to fit in with the Project so well.  We just were blind-sided,” she explained.  “But when you leaped in, you saw it through new eyes…through Stephen’s eyes.  I think that made all the difference.”


“I’m hoping it’s not too late,” Sam stated softly.  “Do you think the damage has been done?  Can Stephen regain his childhood?  I’m especially concerned with his lack of emotion about the bus crash.  Did he ever come to you about that?” he asked with concern.


Verbena thought about his words for a moment.  “I think Stephen takes cues from everyone here at the Project.  After you leaped, he came to me and asked me if the kids had suffered.  I told him I believed that death was probably instantaneous.  He seemed to take that in and accepted that, sometimes, bad things happen.  He’s seen that so many times with your leaps.  Even when we try to keep him from the more shocking details, he seems to know about them.”


“If he’s been using Dante to fill in the blanks, I’m not surprised.”  Sam laughed a bit at that thought.  “He’s so together for a kid.  I love him so much.  It hurts to think he might not get the chance to fulfill his potential.”


“Sam,” Verbena told him gently. “I truly believe that this has been caught in time.  Ziggy informed me of Sammy Jo’s suggestion concerning Dante as you were walking over here.  I think she has a point.”  Verbena was now in her role as psychiatrist.  “If you want my advice, have Stephen enrolled in the Albuquerque Academy .  He’ll have his academic life nurtured, but will also be able to develop an extra-curricular life as well, perhaps even build bonds with new friends as you have done.  Since Albuquerque is only a few hours away, he’ll be able to continue to interact with the Project, especially on weekends.  But this world should be balanced with the new one.”


“That’s good advice, Verbena,” Sam said gently, gaining a friendly smile from the psychiatrist.  “Donna should be here soon and we’ll be able to plot a course for our son…for our family.”  He stood up slowly. “Verbena, I’m so glad that you joined this project.  You’ve been a huge asset to the team.  I just wish I could have spent more time with you.”


Verbena stood, walked around her desk, and touched Sam’s shoulder. “Sam, you are one incredible human being.  I’ve seen you almost daily since you started leaping even though you’re seldom the friend I got to know and love.  But someday, I know you’ll be back and we’ll have a lot to catch up on.”  Verbena smiled at the little boy in front of her, knowing that this time she had been talking to that friend.


“Father,” Ziggy’s voice interrupted. “Dr. Elesee has returned.  She wants to know what’s going on.” 


“Let her know I’ll be there in a minute,” said Sam as he nodded toward Verbena and walked out the door toward the Control Room.



When Sam walked into the room, Donna’s back was towards him.


“Donna, we need to talk,” Sam stated.


Donna turned around. “Stephen, don’t you EVER call me that again.  I’m Mom to you, young man.”  She next turned to Al.  “Has he been up to something? Is that why we got pulled away from our massages?” 


Sam’s first response to Donna’s words was sheer surprise.  Then, as he realized just how this must look to Donna, whom they had all kept in the dark up to this point, the ludicrous nature of the situation, hit him, causing him to start laughing.


Turning back to the little boy she thought was her son, Donna finished hotly, “What are you laughing at, Stephen? This is NOT a joking matter!”


“Oh, Donna…” Sam said while laughing.  He walked over to her and gave her a hug.


“Stephen!” she exclaimed, shocked not only with how Stephen was addressing her but uncomfortable with the hug she was receiving from him.  It was just too…intimate.


“Donna,” Al decided he needed to say something before Sam got himself into more trouble. “That’s not Stephen.  Sam has leapt into your son.”


On hearing this news, Donna’s eyes first widened, then rolled up and back.  Her body immediately went limp and she hit the floor in a faint.





“Sam…you should have seen that coming,” Al gently berated.  “I mean, this is a bit much for Donna to handle all at once, don’t you think?”


Sam was kneeling next to Donna, her hand in his, looking at her with loving concern.  “Yeah…I guess I was so wrapped up on what we needed to talk about, I didn’t think about how Donna would react.  Oh, look…she’s coming around.”


Donna’s eyes started to flutter open as she looked up into the eyes of her son and saw…OH GOD…HE’S LOOKING AT ME WITH SAM’S EYES!  Her eyes again rolled up and she lost all consciousness.


If the situation weren’t so serious, Al would have been tempted to laugh. Instead, he gave his partner a knowing look and a slightly skewed smile. “Sam, maybe you better stand over here for a minute and let me wake her up,” he suggested. “Otherwise, this could take awhile.”


Knowing that Al was probably correct in his assessment, Sam got up and moved to the other side of the room while Al took his place next to Donna.  When again she started to awaken, she saw Al’s face.  “Oh, Al…thank God, it’s you!  You won’t believe what I just hallucinated.”


“Donna, just take a deep breath.  Are you all right now?”  She nodded so Al went on.  “Good.  Now Donna, this day is just a little weirder than most.  The good news is that Sam is in the Project.”


Donna visibly brightened at that news.  “Where is he?  I want to see him.  Al, if Sam was here, why did you make Beth take me to…”  All of a sudden, Donna’s face paled.  “It wasn’t a hallucination, was it,” Donna stated rather than questioned.


“No... But… well…there’s some good things coming out of this leap.  That’s why Sam wanted you to come back.  He feels you two have some decisions to make as a family.”


“Is it okay for us to talk now?” questioned Sam from across the room.  “I don’t know how much longer I’ll be here, now that we know what must be fixed.”


Donna looked across the room and saw her son standing there.  “Are you SURE that’s Sam?” she asked Al.


“Oh, yes.  Very sure.  Ziggy even said it was 100% certain,” Al answered.


Donna looked at Al with raised eyebrows at that comment, noting how rare it was for Ziggy to give a 100% certainty to anything.  “Okay,” she finally said slowly.  “This is more than a little weird.”  She looked over to the being that seemed to be her son, “Sam?”


“Yes, Donna,” answered Sam.


“Just please don’t kiss me or touch me.  I know it’s you now but…it just doesn’t feel right,” she stated, hoping she wasn’t hurting Sam.


“I can see how it could cause you distress.  Okay, I promise I won’t kiss you or touch you. But we have to talk about the day’s events.”  Sam started to walk across the room to help Donna up, but thought about his promise and stopped.  Al caught the dilemma Sam was in and went back to Donna, helping her to obtain a standing position.  Then, with Donna taking the lead, they left the room together to go to their quarters and decide their future.




 “Can I get you some tea?” Sam asked.  “I think I’d like a cup myself.”


“That would be fine, Steph…Sam.  God, this is tough.” A thought suddenly occurred to her.  “How is Stephen handling this?”  All her motherly instincts were going into full throttle.


“Surprisingly better than one would expect, given that he’s only eleven.  Don’t worry.  Sammy Jo is with him right now.  But that really gets us to the heart of what I believe – no, what I KNOW - this leap is about,” Sam told her rather cryptically.


“What do you mean?” asked Donna, happy that her son’s needs were being met as they continued to discuss whatever was on her husband’s mind.  It was so strange.  Her eyes and ears told her she was talking to Stephen, but she knew they were Sam’s words.


“Donna, I want you to know first and foremost…you are a wonderful mother.  You’ve just been fulfilling that role in a situation that I can say with certainty no one else has ever had to deal with,” Sam started tactfully.


“Well, if you mean that nobody else’s husband has decided to step into the unknown, multiple times and isn’t able to find his way home, then yeah…I’d say that’s a pretty unique situation,” Donna said, stating the obvious, a little bitterness in her voice.


“I’m sorry, Donna.  I really am.  I can tell you, however, if I hadn’t stepped into the Accelerator, we wouldn’t be having this conversation because we wouldn’t have even this convoluted life together,” Sam explained.  He looked at Donna, a pained look coming to his face.  “Donna, if you knew when we wed that we’d be here now in this situation…would you have said ‘I Do’?” Sam was afraid of what she’d say.  He so loved her…What would he do if she said no?  He awaited her answer with trepidation.


“Well, if I didn’t marry you that would mean we wouldn’t have Stephen.  I can’t imagine a life without him in it.  He’s such a fantastic child.  So, yes, knowing that Stephen would be our greatest creation, I would have said ‘I Do.’” Donna stated this with unquestioning fervor.


Sam thought for a moment and said a quiet “thank-you” in his mind.  Yes, Stephen had created an unbreakable bond between them.  Somehow, he knew that this leap would be successful.  However, he still had to step through the minefield that was getting the custodial parent to see that changes were needed.


Sam started again. “I have something I think you should see.”  Sam pulled a handlink out of his pocket.


“That’s a new one, isn’t it?” asked Donna


“Well, actually it’s a few years old.  Our son made it,” answered Sam.  “Let me show you what it does.”  Sam hit a few buttons on the handlink and a hologram appeared in front of him.


“Where is Stephen?” asked the hologram.


“Hello, Dante.  Stephen is currently in the Waiting Room until this leap comes to an end,” Sam answered.


“Saaammm…what is this?” asked Donna warily.


“Dante is Stephen’s ‘best friend.’  He’s based on Al and was built using a program I created when I was first starting work on Ziggy,” Sam answered, watching Donna’s reactions closely.


“Did Al have something to do with this?”  Donna’s eyes flashed.  “I knew there was something going on in Stephen’s lab.”


“No, Donna.  Al was as surprised as I was…as you are.  You gotta admit though, our son really has taken a unique approach to dealing with loneliness.” Sam couldn’t quite keep the pride out of his voice, even while realizing the deeper ramifications that Dante represented.  He looked at the hologram.  “Goodbye, Dante. We need to talk about our plans for Stephen.  I’m sure he’ll be talking to you soon but, for now, I’m going to shut you down again.”


“As you wish, Dr. Beckett,” Dante answered.  With that, Sam turned the handlink off again and the hologram disappeared.


“I never thought he was that lonely,” said Donna.  “He seems so well adjusted with the Project staff and he and Sammy Jo are so close.”


“That’s true.  But there are no children his age here,” Sam explained.  “Stephen has found a way to fit into what has been his reality.  A child without Stephen’s IQ probably couldn’t have done it but, for Stephen, it allowed him to survive and even to grow.  I think, though, that we may need to take a different direction now.”


“What do you mean by that, Samuel Beckett?” Donna questioned bluntly, suddenly feeling defensive.


“I think Stephen needs to put some distance between himself and the Project,” Sam stated.


“YOU WANT TO SEND HIM TO BOARDING SCHOOL!  I won’t have it, I just won’t have it.  You’ve gone over the line this time, Sam.  I will not put an eleven year old boy into a BOARDING SCHOOL just because he’s creating holographic friends!”  Donna was definitively agitated and jumping to conclusions.


Sam sighed.  “I didn’t say that, Donna.  I don’t think boarding school is the answer either.  But let me ask you something else.  Have you kept up on any of your research?” Sam turned the topic.


“You can’t change the subject that easily! What about Stephen?” Donna said, stubbornly focused on the previous train of thought.


“I’ll get to back to that, but this is a part of that puzzle.  Just answer my question.  Have you kept up on any of your research?” Sam pressed, knowing where he was trying to lead Donna.


“Not really.  After all, I’ve spent the last twelve years of my life trying to bring you home - doesn’t really leave much room for basic research in entanglement theory.”  Donna wasn’t sure where this was going and had a suspicion that she wasn’t going to like it.


Where had he heard that before? Sam wondered.  Let me see…THAT’S IT!  If he hadn’t stepped into the Accelerator, he would have headed a project looking at entanglement theory.  He hadn’t stepped into the Accelerator because the retrieval program was fatally flawed.  What was it the Al of that timeline had said? “Maybe your work on the entanglement of quantum particles will allow someone, someday to figure it all out.”


“Donna, you need to get back into that work, into researching quantum entanglement of particles again.”  Sam was adamant in this statement.


“But, Sam, I need to be here, to be close to you.  To help you find a way home.” Donna stated this as simply the way it was and needed to be.


“Don’t you see, Donna?  You’re TOO close here.  Not to me…God, I just want to be with you every moment I have.”  Sam started to walk over to Donna, but stopped himself, remembering his promise not to touch her while in Stephen’s aura.  It was hard to hold back.  He loved her with a strength that knew no bonds, but he could also understand her inability to feel towards him what he knew was there while she couldn’t see him as himself…while she saw him as their son.  “You’re too close to the data.  I think that particle entanglement may play a role in fixing the retrieval program, but you need to work on it separate from here.”


“You want me to LEAVE you?” Donna cried, a stricken look on her face.  “Oh, Sam, I couldn’t do that.”


“No, I don’t want you to leave.  You’re my Dulcinea.”  It sounded so strange coming from Stephen’s lips, but Donna heard only Sam saying it.  “I just think it would be a good idea for you to work in Albuquerque .  I’m sure that either Sandia National Laboratory or the University of New Mexico would love to get you into a project.  Al can help out there, I’m sure, and perhaps even Tom will have some pull.  That way, you could have Stephen at the Albuquerque Academy and let him develop in a more traditional way.  You’d only be a few hours away from the Project, less than that by helicopter.  You and Stephen could still interact with the Project, on weekends and such, but hopefully his worlds will become balanced.”  He paused a moment and looked into her eyes, saying, “We need to give our son a chance, Donna.”


Seeing Sam’s eyes, she knew he was right.  Still she had to make sure.  Did he know what he was asking?  “Sam, five years ago I’d wondered if putting Stephen in the school in Albuquerque was the right thing to do.  But I’d remembered my promise to you and I felt it was right to stay.”


“I think it was right to stay then.  After all, if Stephen had not been here to develop Dante and some of the other things that he’s done to improve the technology, I don’t know if we’d be having this conversation.  Also, having Stephen here has allowed me to get to know him even if only occasionally.  But now, it’s the right time both for Stephen to experience a life separate from the Project and for you to be able to continue your research.  That’s how you can help me get home to the both of you.”


“Well…I can’t find any flaw in your logic, Doctor Beckett,” Donna said playfully.  “Okay, let me look into it.  If there’s anything I can do to get you home, even if it means working elsewhere, I’ll do it.  But Sam, just know I keep my promises.  I will be here for you when you finally come home.”


“I don’t know what I’d do if you weren’t waiting for me, Donna.  I may not always consciously remember you during a leap, but you are always in my heart.” He paused for a moment.  “We should get back to the Control Room.  I don’t know how much longer this leap will last.”




Sam and Donna walked back to the Control Room together.  It looked like things were on the right track and Sam wasn’t sure what more needed to be done, other than let Al know about helping Donna and Stephen get set up in Albuquerque.


Once that was completed, Sam felt the familiar build up and knew he was going to leap.


“Donna, can I just give you a kiss on the cheek.  Would that be all right? I won’t be here much longer,” Sam pleaded.


Donna exhaled gently. “Okay, Sam. I guess I could handle that.”  As his lips touched her face, a blue light glowed and then softened.


“Oh, my!  What an interesting feeling!” exclaimed Donna.


“I love you, Mom.” Stephen was definitely the one at her cheek.


“I love you too, Stephen.  You know, you have a pretty incredible Dad.  He loves you so much,” Donna told him.


“I don’t think so, Mom,” Stephen said quietly.  “I think I really made him mad this time.  I’m not sure what he thinks of me anymore.”  He looked down, not wanting to make eye contact with anyone.


“Doctor Beckett has leaped,” Ziggy announced.


Suddenly, the door to the Waiting Room opened and Sam walked out with Sammy Jo.


“Hello, Father,” Ziggy stated.


“Sam!” Al exclaimed with astonishment. “You’re back!  We went through all that and now you’re back!” He hit his forehead with the palm of his hand, clearly surprised by the turn of events.


“I wasn’t sure I could do it and I don’t think it will be for long, somehow I know that the leaping hasn’t ended even if I want it to,” Sam said mysteriously.  “There are three things that need to be fixed and then I’ll be leaping again. Ah…here’s the first fix.”


As Sam spoke, Daniel Fulton walked in holding his daughter.  He walked over to Sam and put Isabella into his arms.  She went to him willingly which gave him a warm feeling in his heart.  Not having been a part of her life, he’d been worried she’d be afraid of him.  She babbled at him, grabbing his nose and gave him the most beautiful smile he’d ever seen.  Sam beamed.


“Wait a minute…did Daniel somehow become psychic?” questioned Al.


“No.  Dad asked Ziggy to contact him when he leaped in.”  Sammy Jo explained, grinning at the concept that her husband was psychic.


“Hey, there, little lady,” Sam greeted his granddaughter.  “How are you doing?”  He looked at Isabella with absolute adoration.  Holding her for a few minutes, he then kissed her forehead gently before turning to Sammy Jo and reluctantly handing Isabella to her.  “You’ve got quite a sweetheart there.  I hope I’ll get to see her again soon.”


Sam next turned towards Stephen.


“Dad, why did you leap back here so soon?” Stephen wasn’t sure, but he thought it might be so his Dad could complete letting him know his fate.  He wasn’t quite sure he was going to like it.


“Stephen, I just wanted to say this to you with us in our own auras.  Son, I’m proud of you.  I love you more than words can ever say,” Sam said with his whole heart.  Reaching over, he took Stephen into a long and loving hug. “I love you, son,” he said, his voice conveying his feelings.


Stephen hugged him back tightly.  “I love you too, Dad.”


“What’s the third fix, Sam?” asked Al with a question on his face.


Sam gave Stephen a kiss on his forehead and then turned to Donna.


“For that, I’ll need Donna to come into the Waiting Room with me since I’ll be leaping right afterwards,” Sam told him.


“Why can’t you stay?” Donna pleaded desperation clear in her voice.


Sam gently shook his head.  “It’s just… not meant to be this time.” He took her hands gently.  “Come with me,” he told her with a romantic look upon his face. Turning to the others in the Waiting Room, he paused. “See you all next time,” he said wistfully, wanting to stay but knowing that he wasn’t really home for good yet…and that he was going to miss them all desperately…again.


Escorting Donna into the Waiting Room, he waited until she had entered first before he followed, letting the door swish close behind them. A minute later, Donna walked out of the empty Waiting Room with a look of utter contentment on her face, touching her lips. 


“God, I love that man,” was all she would say.






Sam heard the frighteningly familiar voice call to him as temporal energy had dissipated. Furrowing his brow, Sam took a step around the corner and stopped abruptly in his tracks. The dark-haired man that had called him wore a broad smile as he held out his arms.

"Duke. Glad to see you, brother," the man said pulling Sam into a tight embrace.

After a couple moments, Sam pulled back and got a real close look at the man who had greeted him. He was tall with a chiseled jaw and dark eyes that demanded respect. The eyes held genius behind them but, at the same time, there was also a hint of madness that caused Sam great concern. He remembered seeing those eyes at least once before. If the twinge in his ribs was a reminder, it wasn’t a pleasant meeting. He found his left hand moving towards his side, brushing over a scar that was the only physical reminder of that meeting.

It was at that moment that the memory clarified itself through the holes of his Swiss-cheesed brain. "Lothoman?" he breathed, his hand firmly covering the “L” shaped scar. When Nathaniel Lothoman only smiled, Sam whispered, "Oh boy."


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