Episode 1322

I'm Too Sexy II

by: Katherine Freymuth and Helen Gerhard







Scott Bakula as 

Dr. Sam Beckett

Dean Stockwell as 

Admiral Albert Calavicci



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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.


Previously on Quantum Leap:


Sam has leapt into Karina Valance, a very popular high fashion model that is suffering from the purging form of anorexia nervosa.  He’s had to endure the pain and suffering of waxing and his host is not allowing him to eat.  On the other hand he’s decided that he really likes massages.  Still he knows he has to get through two photoshoots before he can complete his leap which is to stop another model from overdosing on heroin.   Al is having a blast seeing his buddy in such a strange leap.  Unfortunately, Admiral Thomas Beckett is making the game much less fun from Al's point of view when he comes to inspect the new security protocols.





September 17, 2006.

Playa de Ropa

Zihuatenejo/Ixtapa, Mexico


The third morning of the leap may have started off in a paradise, but Sam and the rest of the models were soon off to a beach in Zihuatenejo to go to work, which Sam had found incredibly tiring.  The beach they arrived at went by the name of Playa de Ropa.  It was ironic that in English the beach was translated “Beach of the Clothes” because the swimsuits were so skimpy, one would be hard pressed to label them as body coverings!


Sam's night had been somewhat difficult.  He was hungry and all that his host would allow him to consume was water.  He'd fill up with the water and then, an hour or so later, nature would call.  Still, since they hadn't needed to be at the mainland beach until 9:30 a.m., Sam managed to get a little sleep.


This morning, when he arrived, he again found the tables of food available.  He'd been able to eat a slice of melon and a piece of dry toast with tea before his stomach started to complain again.  It wasn't much, but at least he was keeping it down.  He'd arrived at the dresser's right as Al entered from the future, holding a cup of coffee and nibbling on a bagel, thickly spread with cream cheese.


"Hey, Sam," Al greeted before freezing from the look on Sam's face. "What?" he asked with a raise of his eyebrow.


The dresser had walked off, indicating she needed to help another dresser and to retrieve the basketball shoe glue spray so Sam found they could talk more or less freely.  "Oh, Al!  That looks so good.  Damn, I wish it wasn't a hologram too so I could have a bite."  He paused and, with an uncharacteristic whine, finished his thought.  "Not that she'd let me keep it down."


Al looked at the bagel in his hand and then at Sam. "Oh, don't tell me you're purging like she is...Sam, that's disgusting!"


Sam's eyes narrowed.  "No, I'm not, but her magnafluxing in that area hasn't stopped.  You saw!  All I had for dinner last night was soup and salad.”  He started pacing.  “And this morning, I got to eat one small slice of melon and a piece of toast."  Sam looked at Al, his eyes despondent.  "I'm gonna starve to death before tomorrow!"


"That's it? That’s all you’ve eaten?  Sam, you have to eat something more than that!”  Al finished his sentence and then took a bite of the bagel.


Still pacing, Sam reached the end of his stride before turning back.  "I can't, Al.  Don't you think I've tried?  I ordered a pizza after the Sushi place that first night and she made me throw that up along with the sushi.  I was lucky to keep those damned packing peanuts down.  Then I tried to have breakfast yesterday on the plane and I lost that.  I figure that she's just going to keep staving me!"


"Packing peanuts?! You ate packing peanuts?! Accidempoli!" Al exclaimed with disbelief.  He pronounced it in perfect Italian, ah-chee-dem-poley.


Sam looked at Al, glaring.  "Would you stop doing that?!"


"What?" Al questioned, spreading out his arms, the half eaten bagel and the coffee cup still filling his hands.


"Talking about food.  I don't know what the hell Archie Dumplings are, but they sound delicious." Sam's eyes glazed slightly. "Dumplings... with gravy... and chicken... and corn with butter!"


"Archie Dumplings?" Al questioned with a frown before raising an eyebrow with concern. "I didn't mention food, Sam." He looked at the bagel in his hand that Sam suddenly seemed fixated on.


"Yes, you did.  You asked if I'd eaten packing peanuts, which by definition I didn't.  They were rice cakes, but they might as well have been packing peanuts.  Then you said something about Archie Dumplings!"  Sam was still looking at Al's bagel, longingly.


Al blinked for a moment before realizing what Sam was referring to. He gave him a pointed look. "I said 'accidempoli,' Sam, not Archie Dumplings. Besides, I don't know anyone named Archie who makes dumplings."


"What the hell does that mean then?"  He paused.  "And would you either eat that or put it somewhere I can't see it?" He gestured wildly at the bagel.


Al looked again at the bagel and gave Sam a weak smile. "Sorry," he told him before looking around. Seeing nowhere he could hide it, he walked a short distance away before putting the coffee mug on the floor, followed by the bagel on top of the mug. Returning to Sam, he showed his empty hands. "Better?"


"Yeah!"  Sam stopped for a moment, seeing Al's expression.  He sighed.  "I'm sorry, buddy.  This leap just has me insanely hungry.  I guess I'm being a little crabby."  He closed his eyes.  "Ummmm...crab legs...with melted butter..."


Al rolled his eyes. "Accidempoli!" he exclaimed again, starting to pace.


"Don't say that again, Al!" Sam warned.  "It still sounds like you're talking about dumplings."


"I'm not! I swear!" Al professed, raising his right hand in oath. "It's Italian! It means 'oh, boy', Sam."


The dresser came back at that moment.  "Dumplings?  I know that the basketball shoe glue is sticky, but it's not like dumplings."


"Oh, boy?" Sam repeated with a frown towards Al.


The dresser chuckled slightly, looking somewhat confused. "The glue isn't like a boy either." 


Al bit back the urge to say the offending word a third time. "Sam... just... get ready for the shoot."  He waved his hand at him.


The dresser had Sam strip out of the robe he'd been wearing and slip into a one-piece bathing suit that barely had any fabric to it at all.  It took a significant amount of glue to get it to stay put, especially on his torso.  Sam was concerned that a good deal of the glue touched the hairs on his chest.  He cringed as he thought of how that would feel when they took off the suit.


The next two hours were spent frolicking again.  Sam was right.  He had three changes and each one left small bare patches on his chest.  He hoped they'd grow back.  Al coached him with his posing again.  Finally, as he was heading back to get out of the final outfit, Al indicated he was leaving to have a smoke.  Sam nodded, watching Al leave, only to have him appear a few seconds later, chuckling heartily.


Sam looked at him quizzically.  “Geez, Al.  That didn’t take long.”


“What can I say, Sam, I’m really fast,” stated the hologram, shaking his head slightly as if trying to shake a picture out of it.


“Uh…Al…most men wouldn’t brag about that.”  Sam looked at Al mischievously, “I guess Beth’s had to put up with that all these years, poor soul.  Sounds like the Calavicci Love Machine is just a myth!”


Al sputtered.  He was about to say something, but then saw Sam’s wicked grin.  He looked at Sam sheepishly.  “Okay.  I’ve got that coming.  I’ve really been giving it to you for this swimsuit shoot!  But, just so you know, it ain’t no myth!”


Sam laughed, grinning broadly.  “Al!  That’s a double negative!  You just admitted it is a myth!”


Al glared at Sam for a second before answering, "Well, you know what they say about myths... there's always an element of truth in them," Al countered, undeterred by Sam's pickiness over the use of the English language. For a moment, he remembered that, on one leap, he'd actually accused Sam of improper English. Well, what goes around, comes around, he thought with a shrug.


"Fine, Al.  Whatever you have to tell yourself."  Sam was still chuckling when the dresser came over and removed the last swimsuit. "OWWWW!"


Al ignored the scream of pain Sam gave, patting himself down for his cigar before pulling it out and putting it in his mouth.  “Hey, Sam.  I am really going to head out now, okay?”  He just hoped that by this time Julianna had gotten Tom out of the way again. 


Sam nodded, tears still in his eyes from the pain he’d felt as yet more of his hair was yanked off his chest.  He watched as Al left the room before gathering his things.  It was noon and the models were going back to the hotel to collect the rest of their belongings and head off for the airport.  Sam just wanted to get back to NYC and get this leap over with.


They arrived at the airport just outside Zihuatenejo at 2:00 p.m. and were on the plane back to NYC at 3:00 p.m.  They were set to arrive Eastern Time at 11:18 p.m. but that was, with the two time changes, that was equivalent to 1:18 in the next morning.  The lingerie shoot would be at 10:00 a.m.  Sam knew he’d better sleep at least some on the plane again.


By the time they touched down in New York City , Sam was feeling okay, although he was still tired.  He’d made sure to continue eating lightly.  He’d simply had salad for dinner again, even though they’d offered steak and potatoes.  He just about cried smelling the scent of the cooked meat wafting from the other rows in the first class section.  He just wanted to get back to the apartment and sleep.





February 4, 2008

8:00 A. M.

Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, NM


Al stepped out into the Control Room again.  Seeing Dom, he questioned with his eyes.


“Yeah, Julianna has taken Admiral Beckett over to the Waiting Room.”  He paused as he watched Al walk down the ramp.  “I thought you were going to bust a gut when you stepped out and saw him.  What was so damned funny?  And why did you rush back into the Imaging Chamber?”


Al chuckled again.  Seeing Tom had brought back the dream full force and he’d had to laugh.  Beth was right; he needed to think of something unfunny.  “Oh, just a memory I had, Dom.”


Dom nodded and then went on with his explanation, “The Admiral understands that Verbena is planning to work with the leapee to convince her to seek help for her eating disorder when she goes back.  He wants to observe that process.”  He paused.  “By the way, Al, remember that Aurora and I are visiting some of her family in El Paso for the next few days.  We leave this evening.”


Al nodded.  “Okay, Dom.  Who will be handling the controls?” 


“Tina has the rotation.”


Al smiled.  “Hope you and the family have a good time, Dom.  You guys certainly deserve it.” Al keyed his wristlink, silently contacting Julianna.  A few moments later, her voice exited the small speaker on his wrist.


“Yes, Dad?”


“Julianna, it’s going to be 22 hours until Sam needs me again.  He’ll either be flying or sleeping until the last shoot.  You think you could step in if something unexpected happens?”


“Why?  Where do you plan on being?”


“I thought I’d take Beth into Albuquerque for dinner at Maria Theresa’s, you know, that restaurant close to Old Town ?  She loves that place.  And I thought this might be good time to see Donna and Stephen too.”  He remembered Sam’s request to let anyone who needed to know how much he stilled loved them be told.  This was important to Sam and so it was also important to him.


“You just don’t want to be here while Tom’s around.”  Her voice held annoyance and a conviction of truth.


Al had to acknowledge she was right.  “Well, there is that too, but really, this is really a good time to do this too.  You know how seldom we know pretty well that things will be under control.  I just want to make sure my bases are covered first.”


Julianna sighed.  “Okay, Dad.  I can do that.  And Tom is a good backup for me while he’s here.  You know he’s going to want to talk to you eventually though.”


Al paused, knowing she was probably right, but hoping for the best.  “Well, it is possible that he will need to leave before this leap is finished.”


Julianna didn’t say anything for a moment.  “Right, Dad.  Okay.  Have a good day with Mama Beth.”


She turned off the link and headed back to the Waiting Room.  Admiral Beckett was likely to be somewhat perturbed by the change in plans.




February 4, 2008

8:00 A.M.

Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, NM


Verbena met with Admiral Beckett and Julianna before heading into the waiting room.  She’d reviewed the tape and the data that Ziggy had pulled up on Karina Valance.  She knew that Karina would end up dropping out of modeling within a year of the leap.  Although the medical records had been sealed, it seemed likely that the woman would suffer a cardiac arrest in June 2007.  Verbena had no reservations that at least a significant reason for this was the model’s anorexic behavior.


Admiral Beckett had asked if he could observe through the two-way mirror and Verbena had agreed.  Although much of the funding for PQL was through the private funding that Alexander Garner had provided as his legacy, the Government still played a significant role in the project.  Any data the Admiral could obtain to show the value of the expensive project was bound to keep the quest for his brother’s return alive.


Verbena walked into the waiting room and found Karina lying on the bed, reading one of the fashion magazines that Tina had willingly lent from her collection.  It was a good thing that Tina kept her magazines - cataloged from what she had told them - so they were able to provide Karina with magazines that went no later than her own time frame.


Al had told Verbena how thin Karina looked.  She had pulled up pictures of the model from the timeframe she’d leapt from and had to agree.  The woman had definitely appeared significantly underweight. 


“Ms. Valance?  I’m Dr. Verbena Beeks.  I’d like to speak with you if that is all right.”


“What about?” the Swedish model laid the magazine down and turned towards Verbena.  Her movements were fluid and rather seductive.  It was a bit of a shock to see Sam’s aura performing those movements.


Verbena smiled.  She’d had two chairs and a small table placed in the room.  She gestured for the person in Sam’s aura to sit.  She first ascertained if the leapee would like anything.  She wasn’t surprised when the model turned her down.  She figured it was time to get to the heart of the matter.  “Well, Ms. Valance, we know that you have been purging.  This room, due to the nature of the project, is constantly monitored.  We’ve seen how you’ve made yourself regurgitate.”


Sam’s eyes grew wide and a look that generally did not cross his face appeared.  Verbena could tell the leapee was lying, again, not un-expectantly.  “I did not do that.  You must be mistaken.”


Beeks shook her head.  “No.  I can show you the video of the activity if necessary, but we both know it is true.”


Now the expression was one of outrage.  “You taped me without my permission!?  What right do you have to…”


The psychiatrist put her hand out and grabbed what to her looked like Sam, but knowing that she was touching a very disturbed woman.  “Ms. Valance, I know that Admiral Calavicci has informed you that this is not exactly a typical situation.  The man you see in the mirror has entered your life for a reason.  One of those reasons is likely to help you with this problem.  Believe me, he and all of us here only want what’s best for you.”


The model arose and walked away.  “It’s not a problem.  I work in the modeling industry.  I don’t want to get fat.  That’s all I’m doing.”


“No.  I know you don’t believe me yet, but you are not fat.  In fact you’re incredibly underweight.  You are physically hurting yourself.  Do you know what the medical outcome of starving, binging, and purging will do to you and your body?”


Hotly, Sam’s aura turned, “Yes.  It will keep me working.”  Karina paused.  “Besides, why do you care anything about me?  You don’t even know who I am.”


Verbena sighed.  “Karina, we know that you are a wonderful, vivacious woman with a wonderful life ahead, but only if we can get you to see what you are doing to yourself and to seek help when you return to your normal life.”


“That’s not true.  I’m just a fraud.  I grew up in a little town in Sweden .  I don’t deserve succeeding in the modeling world.  They will realize that soon and then where will I be?”  With Karina’s head down, Verbena couldn’t see the tears that had sprung to her eyes, but she saw the drops that fell on the Fermi suit.


Dr. Beeks walked over to Karina and lifted her chin.  She looked into eyes she knew were not her friend’s, seeing the troubled soul within.  “Karina, I know for certain you are not a fraud.  I also know you are going to need help with seeing that.  Once you do, your eating disorder…”  She saw Karina start to deny the situation again.  “…yes, eating disorder - it’s called anorexia nervosa - can be dealt with.”


Karina shook her head.  “No.  I’m just controlling what I eat.”


Verbena’s voice was soft.  “Baby, I know that’s what you think, but it’s hurting you internally, especially your heart.  Eventually your body won’t take it anymore and you could die.”  She sighed.  “Let me give you some articles on some of the people that have been hurt by this disease and have died prematurely young or have gotten help and what they say about that.  Don’t take my word for it.  We can talk after that.  Would you be willing to do that for me, Karina?  Please?”


She watched as Sam’s aura showed itself deep in thought.  It was almost like seeing Sam again, wrestling with a problem.  Finally, with a soft, tentative voice, Karina answered.  “Well, I don’t have much else to do here, but read, do I?”


Verbena smiled.  “I’m glad you’re willing to keep an open mind, Karina.  I’ll be back in a little bit with those articles.”  She stood to leave.  “And, honey, you should know, you are a pretty remarkable lady, one I’d sure like to see around much longer.”


Karina smiled.  Verbena thought how much she’d like to know that the smile she saw on Sam was from him, but was equally glad she’d made some headway with Karina.  She figured there’d be several more sessions and then hopefully, she’d be able to get the young woman to seek help.  She decided to identify some places that might be available to help the woman.  Hopefully, GFTW would allow the model to retain the knowledge of those places and choose one that would help her end the anorexia and related psychological issues that were literally killing her.


As she exited the room, she found Admiral Beckett smiling.  “That was great, Verbena.  I can see why Sam wanted you on the project.  You have a really wonderful style and ability to put people at ease.”


“Thank you, Admiral.  This project sure took me far a field from what I’d expected my life to be like, but I wouldn’t have traded working with Sam and his project for all the tea in China .  I just wish we could have him back with us again.”

Tom nodded.  “Yeah.  That’s something all of us agree on.”  He and Verbena said their goodbyes and then Tom turned to Julianna again.  "I guess we should head over to the Control Room to see if Admiral Calavicci is available to talk now."


Julianna hesitated for a moment, putting her hands behind her back. "Umm... Admiral Calavicci is not in the Control Room, Admiral. In fact, he is not in the complex."


The response was immediate.  "What?  Where did he go and why the hell did he leave?"  Yep, Julianna was right.  Tom was not taking this change well.


She took a deep breath. "He went into Albuquerque to do a couple of things, but he should return within a few hours," she finished quietly, already hearing the explosive reaction.


Tom’s eyes narrowed.  "And just who is supposed to take care of things if something goes wrong on the leap?  I've read through the logs.  I know that happens quite a bit."


"I am quite capable of handling anything that might occur, sir. And I seriously doubt that anything is going to happen," Jules told the irate Beckett. "Dr. Beckett will be either in a plane or sleeping or both for the next..." she glanced at her watch, "..twenty hours."


"What if the plane crashes? What if..."  He looked at her and realized that he was looking for trouble, looking for a reason to find Al not meeting his duties.  He had to acknowledge that the man had covered his bases, even if he didn't exactly like how he did so.  "All right, Julianna.  If you tell me you have things under control, I'll accept that."


"Thank you," Julianna said with a slight smile. "It's now nearing eleven hundred. Can I interest you in an early lunch?"


He paused.  "Yeah.  That would be great.  And we can spend the afternoon going over the plans you and Daniel have for future improvements."  He seemed to be finished when he added.  "I still believe this whole Albuquerque thing is to avoid seeing me."


"He really did have things to do there," Julianna corrected.


"I'm sure.  I just don't know if I'd approve of what they are."  He looked at Julianna's face and decided that he'd better leave that trail alone.  "Again, Julianna, I understand that things have been taken care of here.  I'll address any other problems if and when they come up."


"I'm sure you will," Jules muttered slightly under her breath before gesturing towards the door. "If you will, sir?"


With that the two headed to the cafeteria for lunch.  Julianna knew she'd helped her father dodge yet another of Admiral Beckett's bullets.  Unfortunately she knew her boss was right.  Her father was doing his best to avoid the man.




February 5, 2008

5:30 A.M.

Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, NM


Beth had been happy when Al told her they would be spending the day away from the project.  Al knew that Beth had taken the situation with Christa and Eddie rather hard and had not been sleeping as well as he would have liked.  Not that he could blame her. After all, their youngest daughter had nearly been killed - and their grandchild had been killed - by the maniac who had leaped into Eddie. Today had been the first time in a while Al and Beth had been able to have a close to normal day.  Still, Al was concerned that Beth was getting more on the frazzled side than he’d seen her recently.


The day had gone well.  It was good seeing Donna and Stephen.  Both were doing well in endeavors.  Stephen, unsurprisingly, was tearing through his studies at a breakneck pace.  Still, the fact that he’d made several close friends since coming to Albuquerque only justified Sam’s insight that his son needed more than the project.


Donna herself had been making some excellent progress on the entangled particles research her husband had pointed her to during the leap in which he had assured the drug approval which had saved her and Stephen’s life.  Donna had felt it wise not to tell Stephen about their near death experience, even if neither could remember it.  Al had indicated to her that he understood how strange that could be, knowing that, in one timeline, he himself had died in the gas chamber for a crime he had not committed.


Donna hoped to be able to bring some of her research back to the project soon.  She was still working closely with the project, even though the house that Stephen and she lived in was now a couple of hours away by car.  With the helicopter that Al had assured would be available at all hours in case of an emergency, the time away really wasn’t too different from staying in their home just outside the base, where they often stayed. 


The quarters at the project were acceptable, but the quarters were government property, not the home she’d created when Sam had been with her.  Their home in Stallion’s Springs held Sam’s grand piano, his library, the cabinets he built by hand.  It was in that home that she most felt his presence.  Using the helicopter to get to the project took barely longer than the drive to the project from that home in Stallions Springs, when one took into consideration the security protocols that were required to come onto White Sands Missile Base where the project was located.


Donna and Stephen both had been thrilled to hear Sam’s declaration of love for them.  Donna knew that Sam still loved her and their son with every fiber of his being and would until the end of time.  She just hoped that this new research would provide a way to bring him home for good.  That was the only reason she could pull herself away from the project for any length of time.  The belief that somehow, her work would be the key to bringing her husband safely home to rest in her arms again.


Al and Beth knew that.  They prayed for the same thing on a daily basis.


The dinner had been wonderful.  Beth had given Al a kiss when she found he’d made reservations at her favorite restaurant.  They had both enjoyed themselves immensely and had returned to the project feeling quite happy and mostly relaxed.


After a good night’s sleep, Al got up and dressed carefully in a dressed in a mottled purple silk suit with a black dress shirt and a silver tie.  Beth had indicated she had some things to take care of that morning as well.  She had put everything off to enjoy her day in Albuquerque .  Al kissed her and headed off to ImagingChamberland. 





September 18, 2006.

On the way to the Lingerie Shoot



Having arrived home so late the night before, Sam had fallen asleep almost as soon as his head hit the pillow.  When he awoke the next morning, he was ravenous.  Three days of hardly anything to eat!  He liked salads, he really did, but generally they were the precursor to something a bit more solid.  Like the steak he’d turned down the night before on the plane.  Just thinking about it again made him salivate.


Karina wasn’t what one would call a tiny woman.  She was almost six feet tall with long, lanky legs and mid length blond hair that would be perfect for any number of hairstyles.  Her natural beauty had brought her into this business, but she was painfully thin.  Sam’s medical expertise estimated that she could easily gain another twenty pounds and would still be on the lower side of the preferred body mass index.


He just didn’t get it.  Why would she put herself at such risk, why would she treat herself like someone who was in the midst of a sever famine?  He knew that this type of diet would eventually lead to dangerously low electrolytes and would place a strain on her internal organs, especially the heart.


Sam hoped they’d be able to help her see the need to seek medical treatment for this disorder.  If not, he was sure this beautiful woman who was his host would not survive another five years.  He figured he should check with Al about that when he returned.


Laura would not be on the lingerie shoot with him.  She’d said goodbye to him the night before at the airport, telling him she was leaving for a shoot in England the following day.  Rather, he was to be joined by four other models including Candice at the studio at 9:00 a.m.  He decided he really needed to eat something though. Otherwise his blood sugar levels would spike and he would likely pass out.


“Maybe she’ll let me eat some apples.”  Sam had noticed a little neighborhood grocery store a block over. The pectin would provide a filling sensation and the apple contained some of the needed electrolytes he craved.  He went over to the grocery and purchased three apples. He ate one on his way over in the taxi, savoring the flavor and happy that, indeed, the apple took away the edge of his appetite.  He was happy to note that he felt no queasiness.  He wondered if he should risk another, but decided to hold off for a while.  No use pressing his luck.


When he arrived at the shoot at the shoot, he was appalled at the outfits he would be modeling.  Bra’s, panties, nightgowns, bustier’s, and all in staccato heels.  It was his worst nightmare come true.


Al walked into Sam's world.  He chuckled as he saw his friend being dressed for the first shot in a long black negligee.  Sam gave him a sick, weak grin.


"Hey, Sam," Al greeted with a smile. "Nice negligee. Wonder if they have it in Beth's size. On you, though... too revealing."


The dresser, seeing the look on Katina's face asked, "What, is this outfit too tight?"


Sam looked to the lady arranging the outfit.  "Um, no.  I just don't think this is my style."


"Are you kidding?" the dresser told him as she finished the final touches. "Honey, you're a knock-out in that!"


She pushed Sam towards the direction of the cameras.  As he walked, he spoke to Al.  "This is horrible, Al.  All this see through stuff and frilly lace and things?  Have you seen what they have on the rack?"


"No, I haven't," Al told him, a wide look on his face. "What am I missing out on?"


"Yeah, I should have known, pervert that you are!  You're just eating this up, aren't you?"  Sam's strides, although graceful for a man, did nothing for the allure of the negligee.  It didn't help that the dresser had him put on feather highlighted black mule heels.


Al gave him a glare. "I prefer those on homo sapiens of the female persuasion, especially if the female's name is Elizabeth O'Dwyer Calavicci." The glare quickly turned into a smile. "But it doesn't hurt to watch a good lingerie photo shoot."


Sam just looked miserable.  "Well, at least they aren't using basketball shoe glue this time."  When they arrived at the camera area, Sam met up with the other models.   He was shocked when he’d seen Candice Morrison, the person this leap was to save.  As bad as this leap had been for him, his heart had gone out to the woman.  He knew she was ill from the dark circles around her eyes and the pale porcelain thin skin, although the makeup did a fair job of hiding the evidence.  She’d said hello to him with a lazy pitch to her voice, something he knew was from her heroin addiction.  He had been told that the two of them were pretty good friends.  He hoped, somehow, that would help him.


"Geez, Al," he whispered, "how does Candice stay a model?"


Al took a breath before answering. "It's simple. She's attractive and thin and can wear most clothing the average woman can't wear. You can see how makeup covers up a lot of flaws.  Besides, there's a whole look called Heroin Chic.  Even though its heyday was back in the late 1990’s there are still some who still follow that fashion.  The look isn't always simulated, like with Candice.”


"That’s horrible.  We got to save her, Al!"  Sam had that intense Don Quixote sound and look again.  He'd ceased thinking about himself and how much he hated what he was wearing.  If he could save this woman, that was all he cared about.


"We will," Al told him, looking into those intense eyes. "I believe in you, but first... it's show time."


Sam nodded and allowed himself to be posed with the other models into a shot.  For the next hour or so, Al wheedled and cajoled Sam, making crass comments about the little outfits Sam was dressed in and helping him to achieve a look that would help Karina keep her job.  Sam felt things had been going at least somewhat better when at the break he'd been able to eat a mini bagel and lox and keep it down.  That fact, to him, was a miracle.  Maybe Verbena was getting through to Karina.  Sam hoped so.


Sam cringed when the basketball glue spray came into play again a bit later when he was dressed in a little light blue lace & mesh trim matching panty and balconet bra set, which hardly left anything to the imagination.  Sam had hissed, "I wish this was over with." 


Al laughed.  "Come on, Sam, you've been through worse leaps."


Sam shook his head slightly.  "Name one."


"Umm... you've leaped into a diaper," Al offered. "At least this is human clothing."


Sam narrowed his eyes.  "I was an animal." 


"Yeah, that's true," Al quipped.  "But then...there was that one when you were in swimming trunks in the garbage section of the Queen Mary."


"Yeah, but..." Sam was about to answer back when Al looked up suddenly, obviously listening to something.  “What is it, Al?” questioned Sam, concern suddenly appearing in his eyes as he wondered what Al was hearing.  He watched as his friend’s eyes widened and the blood rush from his face.


"What do you mean, Tina? What's going on?" Al asked the unseen scientist with growing concern in his voice.  Al turned to Sam.  “I’ve got to go, Sam.  There’s an emergency with Beth.”  The hologram punched a few buttons, with brought the white door up.  “I’ll have Julianna come in soon to help you, pal.”  With that, Al disappeared from his friend’s world.


Sam was a little lost at that point.  He hated this shoot and Al had really been helping him get through it.  Still he pushed his way through several changes, although the photographer seemed less than happy with him. 


“Okay, I need to set up the next shot.  Take ten.”


Sam sighed.  He was called over to his dresser.  The thin mint green chiffon babydoll pajamas were removed.  He noticed the next outfit and cringed.  It was a black whalebone bustier with maroon highlights, a garter belt, and a skimpy pair of maroon satin panties.  He groaned.  “I have to wear that?!” he complained.


The dresser nodded.  “Karina, it’s not that bad.  You also have fishnets stockings on with this one.  Let me get you into it.”  Sam grinned weakly, allowing the woman to do her job.  She left to get another pair of the stockings, the pair she had having a rip in the left leg.  A moment later, he heard the door to the Imaging Chamber opening behind him. 


Without looking, Sam told his hologram, “I don’t want to hear it, Julianna.  Let’s just get through this little exercise so I can stop the overdose and leap the hell out of Dodge.”


“That’s all I want for you too, Little Brother.”


At the sound of the male voice, Sam turned around suddenly.  “Tom?” he croaked.  “What are you doing here?  I thought Julianna was going to be my observer.”


Tom started laughing.  “Geezus, Sam, you look like Dr. Frank-N-Furter from the Rocky Horror Picture Show!”


“You think I look like a hot dog?”  The good doctor was completely confused.


Tom continued to laugh.  “No.  I guess that Swiss cheesed mind of yours is still acting up.  That was a role in a movie.  Think Dr. Frankenstein in drag.  You must not remember our seeing it when I got back from ‘ Nam .”


Sam shook his head, wondering what would have possessed either of them to see such a movie.  “No. I don’t remember.  Why would anyone make a movie expecting a guy to dress up like this?”


“It was funny, Sam.  You really got a kick out of the song Time Warp.  Still, I gotta admit, Little Brother, that outfit would look a lot better on a few women I know.  You don’t exactly got the body for it.” Tom said while pressing a few buttons on the handlink.


Sam blushed.  “Um.  What happened to Julianna?”  He had been expecting her.  He didn’t particularly like that she would have been seeing him like this, but he had expected her to be there.


"She said she wanted to drive her father to the hospital.  Beth was in a car accident early this morning.  They're not exactly sure how badly she was hurt.  Julianna wants to make sure Al doesn't get in one himself.”


Sam sighed in resignation.  “Okay.  I guess it’s gotta be you and me then.”


Tom wasn’t sure he liked the hesitation in his brother’s voice.  “What’s a matter, Sam?”


“Well, let’s just say dressing in women’s lingerie in front of one’s brother isn’t exactly on the top of my list of things to do before I die.”


Tom smiled and gave him a wink.  “It’s okay, Sam.  I know it’s not you doing it because you enjoy it.”


Sam blushed again.  “Yeah.  That’s an understatement.  Actually, I hate it.”


The dresser returned to complete Sam’s ensemble.  “But you look lovely!”  Once she got the fishnets on him by hooking them into the garter belt, she told him, “They’re ready for you on the set.” 


Sam took a deep breath and exhaled before walking - if you could call what he was doing in five-inch high heel shoes walking - to the bedroom scene that they had set up in front of the camera. Sitting awkwardly, he looked to his brother with intimidated eyes that screamed 'help!'


Tom laughed, putting his hand to his face and covering his mouth.  "Gawd, Sam.  That's classic."  At the stricken look in Sam's eyes, Tom pulled himself together.  "Sorry, it was just too ludicrous."  He paused for a second and almost laughed again.  "Okay, Sam, just look sexy."


Through the forced smile on his face, Sam answered in a harsh whisper, "Turn around."


Tom frowned slightly. "What? Why?"


"Just turn around," Sam continued.


The photographer looked back over his shoulder.  "Why, Karina, there's nothing there.”  Turning back to her he purred, “Come on, baby, show me desire."


Tom shook his head. "Okay. Whatever you say, Sam." He turned slowly, crossing his arms as he did so.


Sam rolled his eyes at Tom's words and looked at the photographer, who was also giving verbal instructions. Deciding to try something - anything - to get the shoot over with, he crossed his legs and leaned back on his hands, hoping that he was sexy enough for the photographer, but not enough that his brother would look at him to see what he was doing.


The photographer breathed as he took multiple shots, "That's it baby.  Now roll a little and pucker up.  I want to see those red lips tease me."


Sam sighed in frustration, looking up at the ceiling. 'Why me?' he mouthed before obeying the order, looking more like he was seasick than sexy.


Tom peeked over one shoulder only to have Sam blush deeply and give him a glare.  He turned away again.  Sam really just needed to come home.  Thirteen years of this was simply too much.  He bet he could get some action in that forum.  Certainly a lot closer than that Italian clown that Sam had made his partner all those years ago.


After a few more ridiculous and humiliating poses, Sam practically stormed off of the set, all too ready to divest himself of the "hot dog" outfit he was wearing.


"Some help you were," he muttered towards Tom.


Tom looked at Sam.  "What did I do?"


"Nothing," Sam said harshly. "Absolutely nothing."


"Okay, Sam.  Whatever." Tom answered, slightly annoyed that his brother didn't seem to appreciate his actions as observer.  "You only have a few more outfits to wear.  Right now, you need to set something up with Candice so you'll be with her to stop the overdose."


Sam nodded.  He continued working his way through the shots and trying to do what he needed to do.  During the short break he had a little later, he went over to Candice.  "Hi Candice.  Did you have a nice time in Thailand ?"


“It was wonderful, Karina.  We were at this really wonderful hotel and spa, the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai.  Gawd, it was just so beautiful!”


“Great.  Hey, you think we can go out after this shoot?  I want to catch up some more with you.” 


Candice started to decline, “Um, no.  I brought something back from Thailand and I want…”


He was about to use the friendship card and prayed that it would make the lie he was about to tell more believable.  “I heard.  How do you know I wouldn’t be interested in that as well?”


Candice looked at her with narrowed eyes.  “You, Karina?”


“Yeah, well…you know.”


“Huh.  I’d never have guessed.”  She thought for a minute.  “Okay, we’ll go back to my place afterwards.”  The woman smiled and walked over for her next shot.


As Candice walked off, Sam looked over to Tom, the question in his eyes.

“Well, now she’s not going to overdose today, Sam, but she still dies in four days.  I think you’re going to have to get her into treatment.”


Sam sighed.  Well, he was at least closer.  He finished the rest of the shoot and then he and Candice headed back to her place, supposedly to do a little different shooting, but actually, Sam hoped, to save the young woman’s life.





February 5, 2008

9:30 A.M.

Socorro General Hospital

Socorro , NM


Al and Julianna had arrived at the hospital about thirty minutes after the ambulance had arrived with Beth. Given that the elder woman was being examined, the father and daughter duo were forced to wait in one of the hospital's waiting areas while Beth underwent tests. Approximately forty minutes later, the nurse came out to them, letting them know that she was resting comfortably in an in-patient room.


As Al and Julianna walked into the room, Al didn't say anything right away, instead choosing to hurry to his bride's side to hug her tightly.


"Sweetheart, are you okay?" he finally asked, looking into her eyes. Gaining a nod and a verbal assurance that she was, in her words, “fine”, he exhaled in relief.


"Mama Beth!  What happened?" Julianna asked as she walked over to her mother, concern pouring from her eyes.


"I'd just merged onto I-25 when a driver that shouldn't have been on the road ran into me,” she told them softly. “It caused the car to flip. I'm sorry, Al. I think it's totaled.”


"I don't give a damn about the car, Beth," Al told her plainly and with deep affection. "I care about you. Thank God you weren't killed!"


Beth smiled gently at Al, touching his face. "If it weren't for the airbag, I could have been. As it is, I only have a few bruises and scrapes and a concussion."


Al smiled with relief from her words. "Guess you'll be coming home with me in a little bit then."


Beth shook her head.  "No.  I can't come home...at least not until tomorrow, possibly longer.  They are concerned about the concussion."


"What do you mean?" Al's voice turned to worry immediately. If there was something wrong with his wife because of that accident...


"Al… This is standard. They want to observe me. At my age, a concussion could be a bit more serious. They are just wanting to make sure I'm okay. Really, baby, there's nothing to worry about."


Al exhaled. "It's just... with the ankle breaking and now this..." he sighed, gently squeezing her hand. "I just worry about you, hon."


Julianna went to the bed and touched the joined hands. "Me too. I'm going to make sure that you get the best, Mama Beth."


"And with the Calavicci clan pulling for me, I'm sure I'll be back home quickly.”  She smiled at both of them and pulled their hands to her lips.  A moment later she frowned and turned to Al.  "Weren’t you in the middle of a leap with Sam?


Al shrugged it off. "No biggie. Tom's in the Imaging Chamber taking care of that."


"Tom may be able to observe, Al, but Sam counts on project staff.  Besides," she said looking at Julianna, "aren't you supposed to be the backup hologram?"


"Someone had to drive him here," Jules countered against her argument. "Besides, you're my Mama Beth. I wasn't about to just hang around while my Mama Beth was taken to a hospital after a car accident."


"It’s more of an annoyance than anything else, Jules.  I’ll be fine.  While it's not my favorite way to get away, I can't say I'll turn down the chance to catch up on my reading and getting a little sleep.  You two should go back to the project at least until Sam's leap is finished.”


Julianna frowned. "Aren't you supposed to stay awake if you have a concussion?"


"No, honey.  They used to think that.  Now they know that sleep is actually good for you.  But you need to be monitored, woken up every now and then... asked questions to make sure you're coherent."


Jules shrugged slightly at her words, a slight grin on her face. "Yeah, well... didn't say I was a very good medic. If it doesn't have the words Band-Aid on the box, I'm completely ignorant."


Al chuckled slightly at Jules' words before again looking at his wife. "Well, someone has to stay and keep you company, sweetheart.  Besides, if you need something who's going to get it for you?"


"The nurses will, Al. It's not like I need much. Also, it's hard to sleep when someone is watching you. And...," she said pointedly, "you know that Sam needs you."


"We can at least run home and pick up a few things for you," Al protested.


"Al, Jules," she said looking at them in turn.  "I just need to get some rest. Really. I haven't been sleeping as well being so worried about Ed and Christa. I really need the sleep. And with either of you here, that just won't happen." She smiled at Al, "And after the leap, you can bring me the stack of books by my side of the bed, and my reading glasses, and my..."


Julianna chuckled. "I think you need paper and pen, Dad," she teased.


Al raised his eyebrow towards Jules. "Don't think your old man can remember?"


"Oh, I don't doubt your memory," she replied. "I doubt Mama Beth is going to stop in her list until the sun has gone completely down."


Beth gave her daughter a jaundiced eye. "Enough out of you, young lady."


"Sorry, Mama," Jules said, though her smile hadn't quite faded completely. "What is it that you want us to pick up for you? I'll bring them by after taking Dad back to the complex."


Beth shook her head. "Jules, you'll need to see Tom off. I told you, don't worry about me. I'm just going to sleep. I'm sure one of you or Christa will be back tonight. That should be soon enough."


"Yes, ma'am," Julianna replied, knowing that there wasn't any way that she was going to be able to contradict Beth successfully. Still, she wrote everything down on the paper and put it in her pocket. It couldn’t hurt. "Come on, Dad. We'd better go."


Al and Julianna both went over to kiss Beth. They said their goodbyes and then left the room.


"Geez...they are like two peas in a pod," Beth said quietly as they left the room.  She turned off the light and closed her eyes to get some well-deserved sleep.





September 18, 2006.

At Candice Morrison’s Apartment



The two women and the hologram entered what should have been from the location, a rather swanky apartment.  However, when they entered, Sam found the place to be beyond untidy.  It was as if the physical surroundings of the place were not what were important to the occupant.  Candice made it quite clear what was important to her when she went into the kitchen and pulled out a bin from one of the cabinets.  As she brought it into the living room, Sam cringed.


Tom shook his head.  “Gawd, I never thought I’d see that stuff again.”


Sam looked to his brother, somewhat confused.  He’d always believed that Tom never did any drugs just as he had never used any himself.  Maybe he didn’t know his brother as well as he thought.  Tom saw his confused look.


He explained, “Hey, some of the guys from ‘ Nam got into it.  In one way, I could understand.  What we saw over there pushed people to find ways to cope with it, not all of them healthy.  I had to help quite a few guys get away from this particular demon.”


Sam nodded slightly, relieved that his faith in his brother had been well founded.  He looked into the bin.  Inside was the paraphernalia of a heroin addict.  He watched as Candice put the bin down on the dirty coffee table and sat down next to it.  She pulled the small baggie of white powder out of the box, lovingly and sensuously holding it. 


“Gawd, I don’t know how I got through the shoot.  Only knowing this was waiting for me here allowed me to survive it.”  She stopped for a moment and looked over to Sam, his eyes holding both sorrow and anger of what this drug was doing to Candice.  Mistaking the look for an addict’s desire to catch the buzz, she offered, “You want to hold the smack?  It’s good shit, really.  I was told in Thailand it will send us to Nirvana.”

Candice started to take out the paraphernalia. A rubber hose, several hypodermic needles, three used and one new, the cotton balls, and a silver spoon with a blackened bowl.  Candice set up a small white gas stove as well. She seemed pleased they wouldn’t have to use the kitchen stove. They could inject right there.  She started to reach for the baggie. 

Tom looked at the handlink.  “You’ll be able to stop her, Sam.  At least today.  Her overdose doesn’t come until Monday now, but you gotta convince her to get into treatment.”  He paused and then added wickedly, “unless you want to stay in Karina’s aura awhile longer.  She’s got another fashion shoot tomorrow morning.”

Looking at his brother with a sarcastic grin that the older Beckett understood was Sam’s way of say, “no way, no how,” Tom shrugged.  Sam turned his gaze back to woman he was to save.  He held the baggie back from her.  “I’m not sure about this, Candice…”

“Hey, what gives?  I thought you said you wanted some of this.  I need to cook up the heroin to a liquid.  You can have the fresh needle if you want.”  She handed Sam the rubber hose.  “Get your vein.  I’ll give you the first injection.”

Sam shook his head.  “No, Candice.  I mean this stuff looks too pure.”  He took his finger and wet it slightly.  He knew he had to have her believe what Al had told him.  That this stuff was way too pure from what she normally shot.  Putting his finger into the small amount of powder, he pulled it out and touched it to his tongue.  The bitter taste almost gagged him.  “This stuff is pure and Nirvana might be another name for Hell in this case.  We shoot that and it will likely kill us.”

Candices eyes grew wide.  “You know that just from the taste?” 

Sam nodded.  “Yeah.”  He decided it was time to work on getting her into treatment.  “Candice, what are we doing?  I mean, this is nuts, isn’t it?  We both make a pretty good living modeling.  What are we doing throwing it away on drugs?”

“Karina, if you don’t want to do it, fine.  You can leave, but I really need it right now.  If I don’t, I’m going to get the shakes and sweats.  I can’t live through that.  I tried to before.”

Tom continued to watch Sam.  He knew his brother had a great track record in helping people.  He decided play it by ear.  He only encouraged him a bit.  “That’s it, Sam.  She needs to know she doesn’t have to do it alone.  Withdrawal is really something to fear.  I’ve seen people crack under it.”

Sam put down the baggie and reached out his hand, grabbing the other model’s hand and removing the rubber hose from her fingers.  He told her softly, but intensely, “There are people that can help you, Candice.  Places that will help you get through the pain and reclaim your life.  Don’t you want to live?”  He hoped she’d respond to the plea in his eyes.

“Of course, I do.  You think I’m crazy?”  She looked at the baggie again.  Sam realized it wasn’t unlike the way he’d been looking at Al’s bagel a few days before.

“I know you want this, Candice, but I don’t want you to die.  I know someplace we can go to get help.”

“Where?”  Candice wasn’t sure why, but somehow, Karina was breaking through to her.  She had given up hope so long ago.  Just maybe, it was there again.

Tom punched the handlink.  “There’s a place called Phoenix House in Manhattan , on Third Avenue .  They have a residential treatment facility.  You can get her into detox today.”


Sam smiled.  “I have a friend who went through a program at a place called Phoenix House.  It’s not far from here.  Why don’t we go over together, Candice?”


“You’d go in with me?”


“I’m not an addict, Candice.  Just a friend who wanted to help you.”


The woman seemed shocked, “You lied to me?”


Sam face took on a sad grin.  “Would you have let me help you if I didn’t?  If you’d come home by yourself, you’d have injected that pure heroin and would have died.  I’m right, aren’t I?”


“Yeah.  I was planning on doing a little more than normal.”  She suddenly grabbed her knees.  “Oh, Gawd.  I would have OD’d for sure.”  She put her head down, her forehead touching the bend in her legs.  “Thanks, Karina.  Thanks for caring about me.”


Sam went over and put his arm around her shoulder.  “Hey, what are friends for?  Come on, let’s go see what they can do for you.”


Candice nodded.  She got up and looked at the bin.  “Maybe I could do it just once more, you know, like a goodbye hit?”


Sam shook his head.  “If you’re going to give this up, you really have to be ready to give it up for good.  I know you can do that.  I tell you what.  Let’s take this stuff with us.  Then it won’t be here when you get back.”  He emptied the bag of Karina’s extra things he had brought to the shoot and placed the paraphernalia and baggie of heroin into it.  They left the apartment, locking the door behind them and went down to get a cab.  A few minutes later, they were standing outside the facility.


“Oh, I’m not sure I want to do this,” Candice hedged.


Sam gave her a squeeze on her shoulders.  “Please?  You need to at least hear what they can do for you.”


Seeing the honest care in Sam’s eyes, the heroin addicted model nodded.  “Okay.  Let’s go in.”


Over the next hour, Sam stayed with Candice, giving the professionals the contents of the bag to dispose of.  When last he saw Candice, they had taken her into the treatment facility.  He heard the handlink in Tom’s hand provide a pleasant jingle.


Tom pressed on the handlink, coaxing information from it.  "Great, Sam.  She'll be okay now.  She gets clean and now is working with other addicts to help them get clean as well.  Good work, Little Brother!"


"Thanks, Tom.  It feels good to know she's on the mend.  Candice is a nice girl."  He paused.  "Why am I not leaping? That's what I had to do, right?"


"Yeah.  I have no idea, Sam."  He hit the handlink again.  "Ziggy doesn't know anymore at this point either."


Suddenly, the Imaging Chamber door opened again and Al walked in.  He saw Sam and Tom walking down a city street, talking.


"Sorry it took so long to get back, Sam," he said as he walked in. "Beth has a concussion, but should be okay in a few days at most..." He stopped when he saw Tom just standing and staring at him. "Umm... thanks for covering," he said, his voice tight. "I'll take the handlink now."


Tom turned to him.  "I don't think so, Calavicci.  Sam and I are doing just fine, right Sam?"


Sam looked from one to the other.  He was about to say something when he suddenly sniffed something in the air.  "Hold on a minute, Tom and Al.  I don't care.  I'm getting something to eat and I'm getting it now."  He turned and walked a few storefronts up and entered an Italian restaurant.


Tom looked over to Al.  "No way you're getting the handlink.  You can just take your butt out of here right now."  He called out, "Tina, center me on Sam."


Al and Tom watched as the scene before them changed.  Sam was sitting at a table in the restaurant reading a menu.  "I'll get some spaghetti with red clam sauce.  I'll just eat a little, but I gotta eat!"


"Now hold it right there, Mr. High and Mighty!" Al exclaimed, ignoring the change of scenery. "The handlink belongs to the Observer on this project. That means me. Sam chose me to observe for him."


Sam looked up at the heated voice of his friend.  "Hey, don't worry about it guys.  Just let me..."


Tom spit back at Al, "He's been my brother a lot longer than you've been his observer, Al.  I told you, I'm finishing this leap with him."


The waitress came over.  Sam had one eye on the two men continuing to argue beside him.  Still he managed to order his meal and a glass of water.  Couldn't they just let a guy eat?


"It's not your job!" Al told him bluntly. "It's my job, the job Sam gave to me. Those are Sam's and my cells in Ziggy's matrix. You have no right whatsoever, even as his brother, to prevent me from fulfilling my duties!"


Tom's eyes narrowed, "Give me a break, Calavicci!  Blood is always thicker than water.  That's why you left to take care of your wife.  That's why Julianna went with you.  I had no problem with that, but don't come in here after asking me to help Sam and expect me to turn around and just leave ‘cause you got a burr under your saddle."


The food had arrived on the table and Sam looked from it to the sight of his friend and brother verbally bashing the other.  "Hey guys, can’t we all just..."


Al crossed his arms and raised his head slightly, giving him a hard glare. "I asked you to cover me while I was gone, not take over completely. I'm back so it's time to relinquish control. I don't give a damn what your relationship is with Sam. How would you like it if you had to leave your office and someone wouldn't let you have it back when you returned?"


The two men continued their argument ignoring Sam.  The hunger pangs he was feeling won out.  He took a bite.  He should be savoring the flavor, but instead it was just filling a need.  The conflict beside him didn't allow for much pleasure to be derived from his meal.


Tom pursed his lips.  "If I'd lent my office to someone to finish a job and come back, I expect I'd be happy to have them finish whatever I'd asked them to complete.  That has got to be the lamest analogy I've ever heard!"


“I didn't ask you to finish a job!" Al shouted at him. "I said to cover me! Nothing else!"


Sam continued eating, watching them fight back and forth.  He'd known that Al and Tom weren't exactly best friends, but this sounded like the beginning of World War III.  He noted that the hunger pangs were lessening.  Now, if he could keep his stomach from the knots the vitreous quarrel was causing.


"And I did cover you.  Sam got the job done with my help this time.  You want to take that away from me too?"


"You selfish, stuck up, arrogant bastard," Al said with a huff. "Thank you for helping him, but now, you're done. You may be the liaison to the President... but until Sam returns, I'm still in charge of Quantum Leap," Al told him in a dangerously low voice. "Therefore, I am demanding that you either surrender the handlink and leave the Imaging Chamber or I will have Captain Blaize place you under arrest."


Tom and Al stared at each other, anger pouring off of the both of them.  Sam cleared his voice.  "Enough!  Both of you!  Dammit!  Why can't the two of you just get along?!"  He stopped and a look crossed his face, which Al recognized as the one Sam would get right before leaping, when he could tell it was coming.  "Verbena must have convinced Karina to get help," he stated casually.


Al's fury was temporarily forgotten from Sam's statement. He smiled slightly. "Time to go, Sam."


With those last words, Sam suddenly disappeared and the room returned to the world of the Project's bare-walled Imaging Chamber.


"Leap’s over Tom," Al said bluntly to the younger admiral. "Handlink," he demanded, holding out his hand.


"Dammit, Calavicci!  You just had to come in!  I didn't even get a chance to wish Sam goodbye!"  He turned and started heading to the door.  "I'll return the handlink in its proper holder in the Control Room."  He walked out the door, leaving Al standing in the room, fuming.


Al took a deep breath and exhaled. He started pacing, each step a staccato tap upon the Imaging Chamber floor.  While he did wish that Tom had had the chance to say goodbye to his little brother, he couldn't abide by the man's bullheadedness. It was his own fault he wasn't able to say goodbye to Sam. Al would have let him. But, no, Tom had to completely take over the situation, a temporary one at that.


This was just like Tom Beckett.  Al could not recall meeting a person more in need of having a two by four hit him up side the head.  What did Tom think that the past 26 years had been about?  He and Sam were best friends at a level he doubted Tom could even understand.  He had asked Tom to help out knowing that he had no other choice, all other staff observers being unavailable.  Tom never listened to anything Al had said.  This was just one more example of that.  Obviously, he still had his belief firmly in place that he was just an irresponsible drunkard. 


“One day..." he muttered to himself as he started for the door as well. 'One day I won't be able to hold back my temper and Tom Beckett will wind up dead at my feet!' he thought angrily.


He walked to the door and exited it as well.




February 5, 2008

11:00 A.M.

Control Room

Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, NM


Tom walked out of the Imaging Chamber.  He started to walk out of the Control Room and then stopped.  “Julianna, I need to speak with you.” 


Julianna looked to Tina, with whom she had been discussing the previous ten-minute situation that had just taken place in the Imaging Chamber.  She immediately walked over to her commanding officer.  Tina figured that she should just leave for the moment.  She hadn’t had a break all morning having been monitoring the leap.  Tom started out with the statement, "Your father is a hothead, Julianna.  This situation just proves it to me." 


"He's not the only one," Julianna said with disgust in her voice. Seeing the look on Tom's face, she sighed. "Look, all I'm saying is that we have certain rules here. The first is that when my father is here, he is the Observer."


"I understand that, Julianna.  Normally, you know I wouldn't interfere.  I haven't any other time I've been here, but this time I was asked to help my brother and I expected to be able to complete what I started."


"The rule still applies, no matter the circumstances," Jules told him with a raise of her eyebrow.


"Fine, Julianna,” Tom huffed. “The man completely ignored my visit, practically laughed in my face when he did see me, asked me to help him out when a family emergency arose, and then tore into me like I'm no more than his lackey and you defend him?  I thought you'd at least see my side."


Julianna looked into Tom's eyes with conviction. "Don't make me choose sides, Tom. You know which one I'll take if you press me. I do see your side... and my father's. And I don't like either one. This whole situation obviously is due to a miscommunication on both of your parts.  You two may not like each other. Hell, you may not even want to be in the same room with each other, but what just happened in the Imaging Chamber was totally unnecessary."


While Tom and Julianna were talking, Al finally exited the door of the Imaging Chamber. He was greatly dismayed to find Tom still in the room obviously in conversation with his daughter and blocking the door to boot.  Again, typical Tom, keeping me from my destination, which at this moment is anyplace away from him, thought Al bitterly. 


Exhaling loudly, Al started for the Control Room door. He was leaving and he wasn't going to let Tom Beckett - or anyone else for that matter - get in his way.


Julianna turned her head and watched as her father marched towards them, his eyes on the door behind them. She knew that look all too well. Anyone who got in Al Calavicci's way when he was sporting that look usually found themselves in scalding water. Oh, Daddy, she thought with a sigh, taking a step backwards to make way for him. As she took the step back, though, she noticed that, although he had seen Al coming, Tom wasn't taking a step back as well.


Oh, no, Jules thought, seeing the pending train crash that was about to happen. She opened her mouth to tell Tom he should move, but it was too late. As Al's march continued towards the door, his left shoulder collided with Tom's. The fireworks started immediately.


Tom put his hand up to prevent Al from walking out the door.  "What the hell was that for?" he said hotly, his eyes blazing.


"What the hell was what for?" Al countered. "It's not my fault you were in the way."


"The polite thing to do, Calavicci, is to beg someone's pardon before you just push your way past them, but then again, manners have never been something you practiced much."


Al's eyes narrowed at the Beckett preventing him from leaving.  One part knew that he had a point.  A bigger part, though, didn't take kindly to being tutored by the other Admiral.  "Where in the hell do you get off telling me how to act?"


“Dad, you know…” Julianna started, only to be drowned out by Thomas Beckett.


"And where do you get off treating me with total and complete disrespect?  I've reached the rank of Admiral in the U.S. Navy, same as you.  I'd never act that way to you!"


Al folded his arms. "Really? What do you call that nonsense in the Imaging Chamber?"


"That wasn't disrespect, Al.  That was simply expecting you to show some consideration for the situation. You ask me to take care of my brother and then turn around and try to pull him away from me like you are the only person in his world.  Gawd, you are one sorry son-of-a-bitch."


"Tom! Was that really cal..." Julianna tried again. It didn't work any better this time. What was worse, Julianna's own temper was starting to rise.


Al continued as if Tom or Julianna hadn't said a thing. "You want to talk about total and complete disrespect? That's all I've ever gotten from you! From the moment we met you've never thought highly of me regardless of my accomplishments."


"I didn't think highly of you because you were a drunken mess. Sam really must have been missing taking care of a cur cause that's all you were when he found you.  You weren't worthy of his concern."


Al got into his face. "I'm not drunk now, Admiral, and I certainly am not a mongrel dog!”


"You may not be drunk anymore, Calavicci, but you still aren't worthy of my brother's concern. Why he chose you to be his partner is a mystery to me. You're nothing but a two-bit hustler. Hell, it's absolutely amazing to me that Julianna has turned out as well as she has. She has actually earned her accomplishments!  All you've ever earned is a lifetime pass to Alcoholics Anonymous!"


Al grabbed Tom by his shirt and forced him against the nearest wall, slamming him hard. "I don't see any war scars on your back!"    


Tom pushed back at him.  "Doesn't mean there aren't war scars elsewhere, Calavicci.  I saw some pretty horrid things over there myself.  Course, I heard that maybe you would have had more scars if you hadn't talked."


Al's reaction was spontaneous and violent. He didn't feel the pain in his hands as he delivered a hard punch to the jaw and a jab to the solar plexus of one Admiral Beckett.


Tom's head bounced against the wall and an "oouufff" came unbidden.  He immediately pushed Al back and reared back to hit his adversary.


"Stop!" Julianna screamed, stepping between the two of them. "Enough!  I've had it with two you!" Julianna told them angrily.


Both men stopped as neither would hit the woman who now physically stood between them.  "Julianna, step aside," stated Admiral Beckett, clearly angered and ready to pull rank if necessary to get his due with the jackass in front of him.


"Jules..." Al growled towards her.


"Shut up, Dad!" she ordered with a glare. "You too, Tom! I won't step aside and I sure as hell am not going to put up with this bullshit anymore! You're both acting like children fighting over a basketball! You need to get away from each other or someone is going to get killed!" She reached into her pocket and pulled out the list that she had written based on her stepmother's wants and forced it into her father's hands. She then pointed to the door. "Go!"


Al stared at the paper in his hand, his eyes wide at Julianna's blatant order. "Julianna Contessa..."


"Get out!" Julianna ordered loudly, pushing him towards the door. "Besides, Mama Beth needs those. So unless you want me to carry you out of this complex, you'll go now. And don't think for a second that I won't, Dad."


Al gave his daughter a hard glare and then one to Tom before he slowly walked towards the door. "You're not worth it, Beckett," he told him just before going through the door and towards the elevator.


Tom smiled exhuming an air of arrogance at the belief that his fellow SEAL had chosen his side. He was about to say something only to have Julianna stop him before he could start.  What she said effectively and totally took the wind out of his sails.


"What are you smiling about?" she demanded with a glare.


"I..I...um.." he trailed off.  He looked at Julianna's eyes and suddenly realized what he had said.  What she had heard.  "I'm sorry, Julianna.  Perhaps I shouldn't have said all that, but..."


Jules folded her arms in a way very reminiscent of her father. "But what, Tom?"


"But...Julianna, he didn't have the right..." Tom tried to justify his actions.


Julianna waved a hand sharply. "I don't care what he did or didn't have the right to do! What you said is inexcusable!  Don't you ever even insinuate that my father is a traitor!"


"That was the word in the grapevine at the Pentagon, Julianna.  They said nothing could ever be proven, but the fact that he lived that many years as a prisoner, well."  He paused.  "It just defied the odds that he didn't talk."


"So someone who defies the odds is automatically a traitor?" Julianna countered vehemently. "What about me, Tom? According to your same grapevine, I should have died in Iraq . Am I a traitor?"


"You know that you aren't, but then again, you've never had any of the other risk factors associated with you.  Like your father's alcoholism.  Your father is a loose cannon and one day he will do something that will bring that to light."


"Well... you don't know me as well as you think," Jules told him bluntly. "You sure as hell don't know my father and I don't appreciate you marring his bravely serving his country with some damned rumor!"


Tom shook his head.  "Oh, trust me Julianna, I know about your father.  I know the man my brother decided to make his partner.  As to the rumor, time with tell.  Eventually, everything becomes clear.  If he's truly got any latent tendencies, they will come out."


Julianna gritted her teeth. She wanted to hit him. Boy, did she want to hit him! No one has the right to accuse her father of 'latent tendencies' without concrete proof and she knew there was absolutely nothing to the horrible rumors saying that her father betrayed his country for a few less whips, but they hurt her so much she saw red!  "Is there anything else you need to do here... Admiral?" she asked coldly.


Hearing the coldness in her voice and his rank prominently stated, Tom understood that the easy discussion had changed. Julianna had told him the truth. If pushed, she'd make her choice. So be it. She was pulling herself into the mantle of her military standing as a Navy Captain, he could do the same as an Admiral.


"No, Captain Blaize.  I believe that the official business for this visit has been completed. You've done a fine job with the new security protocols. I will expect further progress reports as the rest are implemented."


"Then allow me to escort you to the helicopter pad for your return to Holloman's Air Force Base," Julianna said bluntly, gesturing to the Control Room door. She followed as Tom walked out of the Control Room and up the ten levels to the ground floor.





February 5, 2008

11:30 A.M.

Control Room

Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, NM


Julianna returned to the Control Room after seeing her 'boss' off.  She couldn't believe that Tom could be such a total and complete nozzle where her father was concerned. She knew he didn't usually listen to rumor and the fact that he did about her Dad really showed that Tom had blinders in place where Al Calavicci was concerned.


It really was enough to give anyone a headache. It even hurt worse that Tom actually believed that her father was a loose cannon because of his alcoholism. What Tom didn't know was that she had inherited that particular disease from her father. If her father was a loose cannon because of alcoholism, so was she.


She noticed that Tina had returned and was keying information into Ziggy.  She knew that the programmer did not like conflict and that today was likely stressful to her.  Tina was a different sort of person, a brilliant scientist and yet acted more like a little girl than anyone Julianna had ever met.


Jules sighed slightly, shaking her head. "Men," she said aloud to vent her frustration.


Tina smiled weakly, "Yeah.  You can't live with them, you can't kill 'em.” She started away from the control console. “Excuse me, Captain Blaize, but I have some maintenance to complete in the Imaging Chamber."  Julianna watched as Tina walked up the ramp and entered the room where today's showdown had begun, leaving her alone with Ziggy.


"Sure is tempting though," Julianna muttered to Tina's words, leaning against the control console.


"You sound greatly troubled, Captain Blaize,” Ziggy’s voice intoned.


"Well, you heard them," Jules replied to the computer, tilting her head back to look at the orb over the console. "Hell, you could smell the testosterone. They can never admit when they're wrong and Tom..." she sighed. "I swear they both have burrs up their butts."


Ziggy seemed to be, for the first time in the history of parallel hybrid computing almost at a loss for words.  "Oh my, that sounds painful."


Julianna rolled her eyes. "Shut up, you over-analyzing bunch of miswired circuits," she complained.


She couldn't have been more surprised when Ziggy, in an almost cooing sound responded, "Oh, you do love me!"


Thinking about the words, Julianna couldn't help but give a small chuckle.



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