Episode 703

Heart And Soul

by:  Katherine Freymuth

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The quantum effect dissipated, allowing Sam Beckett to arrive at his latest destination. He tried to focus his eyes on his surroundings only to see the words "Fasten seatbelts. No smoking" printed on an object directly in front of him. Raising his head, he realized that the words were on the back of a seat. He slowly stood up and looked around again. 

However, there was something definitely wrong with the scene. The place seemed too dark. It also had obviously once been pristine and neat. Now, it was a twisted mess, wires dangling from the ceiling and dents adorning the walls. Papers were scattered haphazardly across the floor. The moment Sam realized that he had leaped onto a plane that had probably just crashed, he wondered why he hadn’t leaped in sooner, why he hadn’t leaped in to prevent the crash in the first place.

"Bartlett?" a woman’s voice asked with a hint of concern. "Bartlett, are you okay? Bartlett?"

Sam quickly looked around to find the source of the voice. To his right stood a brown-haired woman with bright blue eyes, which looked at him with great concern. Her face was bruised and smudged slightly with dirt and her slightly wavy brown hair was tangled.

Sam’s focus, however, had not left her eyes. He couldn’t help but to start falling into their beauty. Almost immediately, Sam’s attention was drawn away from the crashed plane and towards this beautiful woman, whose eyes almost resembled a deep clean mountain lake. 

Oh, boy, Sam thought with a silent sigh as he began to wonder what it would be like to swim in the lakes of the lady’s eyes.



Somewhere in the Rocky Mountains

April 6, 2000


"Bartlett?" the woman questioned again, forcing Sam to focus on the situation.

"Yes," he finally said. "I’m fine. I think," he finished quietly.

The woman exhaled gently with relief. "Good. You really had me scared. The last thing I need is three injured people and me alone to take care of them, especially with my medical background." Her voice indicated that she wasn’t as much of the medical expert as she felt she needed to be at the moment. She took a deep breath. "I’m afraid the Senator and his aide were injured in the crash. Mr. Karuth seems all right but the Senator…" She sighed. "I don’t know. I’m going to need your help with him."

Sam nodded at her words, trying to sort them out to understand the situation. As he nodded, he took a quick glance at her again, this time noting that she was dressed in a dirty – mostly likely from the crash – white Naval dress uniform. The name on her tag read: Capt. J. Thomas. In addition, he noted that the stars on her shoulder confirmed the rank.

Captain Thomas looked at him with concern yet again before walking down the aisle, heading towards the front of the plane. Sam followed the implied order her actions gave him, allowing himself to be led to two men. One of the men held his wrist close to his body, obviously in pain. The other seemed to be drifting in and out of consciousness. The former, whom Sam concluded was Mr. Karuth, was talking to the latter, whom Sam again concluded was the Senator, trying to keep him awake.

Mr. Karuth stopped speaking to the Senator when he realized Sam and Captain Thomas were nearby. He turned his head and gave a hateful glare. At first, Sam thought that the glare was directed at him. However, looking at the Captain, he realized that the glare was meant for her. Why, he was not sure. He did, though, get the feeling that the Captain reciprocated the feelings in that glare.

"I knew you were a mistake the moment I laid eyes on you," Karuth told the Captain without preamble. "I told the Senator that hiring you was stupid but he wouldn’t listen. Now, look what you’ve gotten us into."

Thomas sighed at his words, obviously not bothered by them but still holding herself in check from speaking an equally vicious remark.

"Mr. Karuth, I am sorry that you feel that way. I can assure you, however, that neither I nor Lieutenant Bartlett are responsible for this unfortunate situation and that we will both do everything we can to insure that both you and the Senator will be taken to safety as soon as humanly possible." She took a deep breath. "So, if you will excuse me, I’m going to work on repairing the radio. Lieutenant Bartlett will check the Senator and do what he can for both of your injuries."

"You’re going to work on the radio?" Karuth asked sarcastically. "With what? A hairpin and your good looks?"

Sam felt like giving the man a punch across the jaw for the sexist remark. He could tell, just from being around the Captain only a few minutes, that she was a more than capable woman. He didn’t like pre-judging people but he suddenly found Karuth to be a disgrace to the male gender as a whole.

Thomas, however, merely smirked at the comment. "Thank you for the suggestion, Mr. Karuth, but I think the toolbox in storage will help me to do the job much easier than the hairpin. As for the good looks, thank you for the compliment." She paused to get Karuth’s reaction. The latter was obviously not amused. "Now, if you will excuse me…" She looked firmly at Sam, reaffirming her implied instructions to care for the Senator and his aide. Her eyes locked on his for only a moment, but the look in them was gentle.

Sam nodded at her silent order, entranced by the color of her eyes. Gawd, she’s gorgeous! And yet so familiar. Who is she? He watched as she marched down the aisle towards the back of the downed plane, only turning his head when she disappeared from sight.

He looked upon his patient, barely noting the annoyed glare that Karuth was giving him. Sam ignored the glare as he immediately checked the Senator’s vital signs. The Senator’s heartbeat was a little erratic and the color of his hands was a ghostly pale, telling Sam that there was something seriously wrong.

"Captain Thomas is incompetent," Karuth spoke up vehemently, causing Sam to be distracted from his examination of the Senator. "She’s proof that woman shouldn’t be in the military."

Sam frowned at his words. "Obviously, the Senator disagrees with you. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have chosen her." He gave him a firm glance. "Now, if you would be quiet so that I can concentrate on helping the Senator…"

Karuth sighed as he moved away from Sam and to the other side of the plane, obviously feeling put out by Sam’s request.

Sam shook his head at the aide’s actions and focused on the patient on the floor. He moved his hands to open the Senator’s eyelids, to check the pupils, but one glance at the face was enough to make Sam physically pause.

Senator Solomon Weitzman! Sam exhaled at the revelation before him. "Oh, boy," he said quietly.

The tall, skinny Senator laid motionless in the prone position Sam had put him. He didn’t look as Sam had thought he would, although Sam’s Swiss cheese memory couldn’t come up with even an imagining of what Weitzman looked like. The Senator, however, didn’t resemble a man who had once attempted to declare Sam non compos mentis.

"Oh, boy, what?" Karuth demanded. "How badly injured is he?"

Sam once again focused on his patient. It didn’t look good at all. Weitzman’s back was obviously broken and there were indications of internal injuries and internal bleeding.

"It’s very bad," Sam admitted. He sighed in frustration. "I’m afraid he probably won’t survive the night." Damn it! Why didn’t I leap in sooner?! He thought angrily.

Karuth look an angry step towards him. "That is NOT acceptable!"

Sam quickly stood and faced Karuth with pent up anger and frustration. "Well, I’m sorry, Mr. Karuth, but it is the truth. Senator Weitzman is dying and there is little we can do for him other than keep him as comfortable as possible."

"You’re not even trying," Karuth accused viciously.

"Believe me, Mr. Karuth," Sam replied, upset by Karuth’s attitude almost as much as by his helplessness. "If there were anything I could do to save his life, I would do it. However, his injuries are far too severe. He appears to have massive internal injuries and bleeding and I seriously doubt that he could survive even if we were in a hospital at this very moment."

Karuth huffed angrily. "I don’t think you understanding just how important Senator Weitzman is, Lieutenant. If he dies, there will be hell to pay in Washington. Now, I suggest you save his life or…"

"Or what, Mr. Karuth?" Captain Thomas interrupted him as she headed for the cockpit, a tool kit in her hands. "Lt. Bartlett isn’t God, sir. He will do everything he can to save the Senator but if he says that the Senator is probably going to die, then he is probably going to die. I don’t like it anymore than you do, sir. But we will do what we can." She looked at Sam firmly. "Won’t we, Lieutenant?"

Sam looked into the Captain’s eyes and nearly fell into them once again. What the hell is wrong with me? He took a deep calming breath. "Yes, ma’am," he answered after a moment.

"Good enough for me," Thomas said with conviction before continuing to the cockpit. She stopped for a minute, turning towards Karuth. "I know I may sound cold-hearted, Mr. Karuth, but right now, we can’t afford to get all blubbery and stuff. So, I suggest that you either find something useful to do or stand out of our way. You may not think much of us but, right now, we are probably the only chance you have of getting out of these mountains alive."

As she spoke, the door to the Imaging Chamber opened, allowing Admiral Albert Calavicci to enter the scene. Replete in a maroon suit with silver threads, a shiny silver dress shirt and matching shoes, and a dark navy tie, Al looked about at his surrounding, catching Captain Thomas’s last statement.

"She’s right, Sam," he commented to his partner and friend. "Julianna is probably the best officer I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting."

"And what about the Senator?" Karuth was asking Julianna with a glare.

She took a deep breath. "As for the Senator… I sincerely hope he does survive." She then continued on her way to the cockpit.

Karuth growled angrily, quickly standing and marching towards the back of the plane, obviously needing to get as far away from Julianna as possible without being too far away from Weitzman. 

Al glared at Karuth as he passed by Sam and through Al. "I’m not sure, but I think I’ve just been violated. What a nozzle!"

Sam exhaled as the confrontation between the Captain and the aide had a temporary cease-fire. "I take it that you’re familiar with Mr. Karuth," he commented quietly as he checked Weitzman for injuries that he could tend.

"Mr. Congeniality?" Al questioned sarcastically. "Wish I never met him. The guy makes me sick the way he treats people, especially women. I don’t understand how Weitzman could even hire a nozzle like him, not that I was especially fond of Weitzman." He looked sadly at the lanky Senator beside Sam.

Sam noticed the look immediately. "He isn’t going to make it, is he?" he said more than asked.

Al shook his head. "No, he isn’t going to make it." He raised the handlink to read the information that Ziggy had for them. "Solomon Weitzman died from internal injuries at approximately 3:45am on January 12th, 2000."

Sam exhaled in frustration. "I leaped in too late!" he whispered emphatically.

Al shook his head. "No, you didn’t, Sam. Ziggy’s pretty sure that you didn’t leap here to save Weitzman."

Sam looked at him with question. "What do you mean? If I’m not here to save Weitzman…"

Al raised his hand in an effort to keep Sam from becoming overly excited. "She thinks you could be here for the rest of the group on this plane." He took a deep breath. "In the original history, Julianna was the only one who was rescued… will be rescued… five days from now. No one knows what happened to Karuth and Bartlett. They just… disappeared."




Sam frowned at Al’s words. "Al, people just don’t disappear."

Al shook his head, not to negate but to let Sam know that he understood his confusion. "Julianna couldn’t tell what happened to them. When the rescue team found her, she was a wreck. It was a miracle she was alive, Sam. She hadn’t had anything to eat or drink in a least four days and her body temperature was at a dangerously low level." He exhaled, obviously becoming upset by the memory. "A relative of Weitzman actually accused her of killing everyone else who was on the plane. But Julianna is incapable of such a thing."

"Why do you say that?" Sam questioned, hoping that the question would get Al to give him more insight into the woman.

Al frowned at him. "Because I know her, Sam. I’ve known her for ten years!" He glared at him. "Don’t tell me you think she actually killed them?!"

Sam shook his head firmly. "No, Al. I don’t think that she killed them. I just want to know who I’m dealing with here." He took a deep breath. "Other than Weitzman, I don’t know these people, Al. At least, I don’t remember them. And I don’t think I can save them unless I know more about them."

"What do you want to know about them, Sam?" Al asked, frustration creeping into his voice. "Karuth’s a nozzle, Bartlett’s a doctor, Weitzman’s a prick, and Julianna… Julianna is…"

"Your friend," Sam finished for him. 

Al exhaled slowly. "Yeah. I suppose you could say that."

Sam took a breath, thinking about the information that Al gave him. After a moment, he raised his head and looked at his partner with question. "Al, why is Karuth so negative towards Julianna? It seems to me that she is a very competent officer."

Al took a deep breath. "Karuth doesn’t believe women should be in the military. But I suppose you already noticed that."

Sam nodded briefly but said nothing, allowing the hologram to continue his explanation.

"He thinks if a woman is in the military that they should only be nurses. And that makes Julianna a prime target for him," Al told him.

"Why?" Sam asked with a frown.

"She’s a SEAL."

Sam looked at him with a slight frown before realizing that Al was referring to the Navy’s Special Forces division rather than the aquatic mammal. He looked at Al with astonishment. "What?"

Al raised an eyebrow. "A SEAL. You know, like Tom. She specializes in Political Security so she’s been in some very tense situations. SECNAV… the Secretary of the Navy…" Al clarified at the confused look on Sam’s face. "He authorized that she could be a bodyguard and she was assigned to Weitzman at his request. Guess it looks good on his record to have the only female SEAL as his bodyguard, maybe thinking that it might win him re-election…. which it just could have."

Sam shook his head. "It’s just that she’s…"

"Short, beautiful, and intelligent?" Al questioned. "Fragile-looking? Sam, don’t underestimate her. She brought down a 250-pound mercenary and took a bullet in the shoulder as a result. And she didn’t even cry out in pain once. Scared the hell out of me, too."

Sam looked at him with question, his head tilted to the side.

Al sighed at that look. "Okay, so I exaggerated a little. But still, Sam, she is one very tough cookie. The first thing she said to me after she was shot was, ‘Guess I should have ducked, huh?’ What a lady!"

Sam nodded his head at Al’s comment. "What about the guest? What have you got on him?"

Al nodded at his question. "Stanley Bartlett. He’s one of our medical staff at the project. Weitzman was just here at the project a couple of days ago and he requested some medical assistance. Bartlett went along to treat Weitzman for a respiratory illness that Weitzman hadn’t been able to shake. The investigators right now think that Weitzman might have survived a little longer if it weren’t for his illness. Bartlett’s a good guy, Sam. Nice head on his shoulders."

Sam again nodded at Al’s information but said nothing as he looked at his patient below him. There was a moment of tense silence between them, Sam worrying about the people on the plane and Al worrying about his friends Sam and Julianna.

"Does Ziggy have an idea on how to keep Karuth and Bartlett from 'disappearing'?" Sam finally asked.

Al shook his head. "No clue at all. I say go with your guts, Sam. Most of the time, you’ve got good guts."

Sam smiled at his choice of words. "Thanks, Al."

"Any change?" Julianna asked as she stepped from the cockpit, causing Sam to jump slightly, startled. He looked at the Captain and shook his head, his eyes once again focusing on hers.

"No, I’m afraid not," he said quietly.

Al frowned slightly at the look in Sam’s eyes. "Sam, are you okay? You’re not wigging out on me, are you?" The concern for his friend was evident in his stance.

Julianna sighed at Sam’s answer. "Damn," she muttered. "And I’m having a hell of a time getting the radio working." She motioned her head towards the back of the plane. "I’m sure Mr. Karuth would just love to hear that one. I can almost hear the derogatory comments about my failure because I’m a woman." She huffed. "What a load of bull!"

Al nodded in agreement. "You can say that again, honey."

Sam stifled a grin at Al’s remark. "Well, try not to let him get to you, ma’am."

Julianna looked at him for a moment with questioning eyes before nodding. "I’m sure the same goes with you, Lieutenant." She gave him a gentle look, her eyes once again meeting with his. "I’m going to take a break from that radio and see if we can scavenge some rations. I have a feeling that we are going to be here for a long while and some drinking water would be helpful, without us having to melt snow."

Sam frowned at her words. "Snow?"

She frowned in return. "Don’t tell me you didn’t notice that we’re stuck in the middle of the Rocky Mountains in the winter time? That’s usually what I would call that white stuff just outside of the plane." Her tone of voice indicated that she wasn’t upset but rather was playing with him.

"I’m sorry, ma’am," Sam replied. "I guess I’m just a little distracted at the moment, what with Weitzman being injured and with Karuth being…"

"A damn nozzle," Al supplied for him when Sam didn’t finish the sentence.

Julianna smiled at him, the first time she had smiled since Sam leaped onto the plane. If her eyes were entrancing before, her smile caused Sam’s heart to slow to a near stop. He felt as if he would explode if he didn’t take her into his arms at that very moment.

"It’s understandable, Lieutenant," she was telling him, though Sam barely noticed that she was saying anything at all. "Just do what you can for both of them. I’ll be back in a few." She carefully stepped around the doctor and the Senator and headed for the door of the plane. As she stepped out, she and Karuth shared glances, neither of them pleasant.

Al looked at his friend with furrowed eyebrows. "Sam, are you sure you’re okay? You got a little pale there for a moment."

Sam raised his eyes to meet Al’s. "I’m fine. Really. I am. You don’t have to worry about me."

Al narrowed his eyes at him. "Then why are you acting like you’re the star of a soap opera? You know, bad lines and bad acting?"

Sam huffed at him with a rebuking glance. "I’m fine, Al. Why don’t you do something useful instead of pestering me about it? Like going back to the Project and finding out how I can save Julianna?"

Al raised an eyebrow. "And Karuth and Bartlett."

"Of course, and Karuth and Bartlett," Sam said with frustration in his voice.

Al nodded slowly at his words, watching him with hawk-like eyes as he opened the Imaging Chamber door. "Right. I’ll be back soon, Sam." He stepped backwards through the door, his eyes on Sam until the door closed.

Sam exhaled at Al’s behavior and turned his attention back to Weitzman before being interrupted yet again.

"Where did the Captain go?" Karuth demanded from him.

Sam didn’t look at him as he answered. "To get food and water supplies." He continued to try his best to make Weitzman as comfortable as possible. 

"What about the Senator?" Karuth insisted.

Sam sighed with a hint of sadness. "As I told you before, there’s nothing we can do for him except make him comfortable. I would appreciate a little thankfulness for doing what I can."

Karuth huffed. "Thankfulness, huh? I’ll be thankful when I can get away from this godforsaken forest and back into my apartment where I never have to look at you or the Captain." The dislike was more than evident in his voice.

His frustration hitting its peak, Sam slammed a palm against the metal floor below him. "You know, I’m getting really sick of your pessimistic attitude concerning Captain Thomas and me."

Karuth glared at him. "What are you going to do about it, Doctor?" He didn’t notice Julianna standing immediately behind him.

"He’s going to do his job," she stated firmly, more of an order to Sam than a statement to Karuth. "And so am I. And I really don’t give a damn whether you like us or not." She placed a large 5-gallon container on the floor near Sam. "Fresh water. Use it wisely." She then stepped over the group of men before heading back towards the cockpit.

Karuth huffed angrily at her interference before standing and looking at Sam. "I’m telling you right now, Doctor Bartlett. You follow that woman and you’re doomed in these mountains." He marched to the back of the plane, obviously content with being as far from his would-be rescuers as possible.




Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico

May 2, 2000


Al stepped from the Imaging Chamber, feeling as if he had been through it all before, which he supposed was true. Al’s description to Sam of Julianna’s condition when she was found was tame in comparison to the reality. The lack of food and water in her body was a complete mystery, especially given that there was a definite supply of both in the plane. When Al saw her for the first time after the crash, he could swear that she looked more like the survivor of a concentration camp than a person who was just rescued from a downed plane. The sight of her struck him to the core of his being. Something had happened on that plane, Al knew, but there was no evidence, that he knew of, to support even this theory. 

Without hesitation, he walked immediately to his office. Despite his concern with the leap, he knew that there was still work to be done. For one, there was the upcoming court hearing for Julianna to determine whether she was somehow responsible for the crash. Al had to make sure that everything was set in the complex so that he could leave New Mexico for the few days that the hearing would take. He felt he had an obligation to Julianna to be there to support her and to testify on her behalf. After all, he was the one who suggested her to Weitzman as an excellent bodyguard.

Al himself had been offered the opportunity to have a bodyguard of his own. However, he rejected the offer. He wasn’t about to let one terrorist incident affect his regular lifestyle. So what if he had been held hostage along with Weitzman and several others? That incident was a walk in the park compared to Vietnam. Too bad the Secretary of the Navy didn’t feel that way; he gave Al a bodyguard anyway.

He was halfway through one of those annoying but necessary reports that the project staff presented to him when his thoughts were interrupted with a silky female voice.


"Yes, what is it, Ziggy?" he said briefly.

"I thought you might like to know that Captain Julianna Thomas is here to see you. She’s waiting for you in conference room A."

Al frowned slightly. "Jules’ here?"

"I believe that is what I just said, Admiral."

Al growled slightly at Ziggy’s tone as he stood. "Well, why the hell isn’t she in D.C.?"

"I do not know, Admiral. Perhaps you would like to ask her that question."

Al ignored the statement, leaving his office for the conference room, his mind filled with questions, the top one being why she wasn’t in D.C. awaiting the hearing. It didn’t take him long to arrive at the conference room. When he entered it, he looked upon the woman with immediate sympathy.

Julianna looked too worn to stay awake. She was still far too thin for her height and still appeared withdrawn. She smiled at Al sadly when he came into the room, obviously pleased to see him but not liking the circumstances.
      She walked up to him and extended her hand gently for Al to take. "Hello, Admiral," she greeted.

Al shook his head as he took her hand in his. "I told you before, Jules, I'm not your superior. Call me, Al. It's the least you can do since that Chocolate Sundae fiasco."

Julianna smiled widely at his words. "Fiasco? I take it that you don't like banana chips up your nose." 

Al grinned as he noticed the small cut on her left cheek and frowned upon seeing it. "No, I don't like banana chips anymore than I like to see cuts and bruises on you," he said as he brought his hand up to touch the small area on her cheek.

She gently deflected his touch, making sure that she didn't do any harm in her actions. "It's still a little sore." She sighed. "Dammit," she muttered, finding a chair and sitting down.

Al watched her with wary eyes. He didn't like what he was seeing. Jules was always the optimistic one, who would brighten his day with words of comic relief. He puckered his lips before licking them. "So… umm… why are you here and not in Washington? Don't you have to be there for the hearing?" he asked, knowing that it was exactly what Ziggy had told him to ask. 

She looked at him with a hint of a frown before her face softened a bit. "I've been given a leave of absence. Guess they don't consider me a flight risk. Don't suppose you noticed the armed Marine watching my every step?"

Al nodded at her words. He had noticed the flacky standing outside the door after he had told him who he was and to get the hell out of the way. "Yep, met him. But you still didn't answer my question, Jules. Why are you here?"

She was quiet for a moment, turning her head to look at a wall. "I don't know," she said without conviction.

Al nodded his head. "You don't know, huh? So, you decided to fly all the way out here, with that jockstrap following you around, just to come and say ‘hey’?" He looked at her with the same look that he always had when he knew that she was lying to him. He had become quite good at reading her.

She glared at his response, standing abruptly, obviously annoyed. "So, I can't visit you unless the world is falling apart, is that it?"

Al went to her, placing his hands on her upper arms gently holding her. "No. I'm saying that you know why you came here. Just tell me. I'm a big boy."

"Let go of me," she said quietly, her face showing a hint of pain.

Al quickly let go of her arms, instantly suspicious. "What happened out there? What happened on that plane, Jules?"

She looked at him for a moment, considering answering the question, before turning and taking some steps away. "I don't want you to testify on my behalf, Al," she stated firmly instead of answering the question.

"What?!" he asked almost at a holler. "Why the hell not? This is your career that we are talking about here. You… you do your job…" 

"My career is already over!" she shouted at him, turning towards him quickly. "And there isn't a damn thing you can do about it!"

Al jumped at her shout only to take a step back and swallow, not fully comprehending what she was talking about. "Baby, I can do something about it…" Al began.

"Don't call me baby," she growled. "I'm not one of your children so don't treat me like one."

Al couldn't believe that this was the same woman that he had known before the crash had occurred. She had never before growled at any of his endearments to her. Standing straight, Al remarked, "Captain, I suggest you calm down. I apologize for any term that you don't like but I'll be damned before I let a fine officer as yourself go down in flames. I will testify and there's nothing that you can say that will change my mind."

She looked into his eyes firmly. "Then you're associating yourself with a confessed murderer."

Al blinked at her statement and cocked his head to the side as he peered back into her ocean blue eyes. "You had a hard time watching Bambi at our house and you expect me to believe that you killed someone in cold blood? I'm not a fool, Jules. I know you didn't kill anyone."

"Then you don't know me at all, Admiral," she said softly. She was obviously trying to keep her emotions in check, swallowing tightly.

Al held up his hand to her, pointing at her. "I don't believe a word." He shook his finger at her only for a moment before flying his arms around in complete gestures. "You didn't do it. I know you too well." He couldn't describe what exactly was going on, but he was getting fed up. "Dammit, tell me what happened so I can help you!"

The door opened up and the Marine stepped in the room, looking at the pair in the room. "Any problems, Admiral?"

Al glared at the nozzle who had entered the room. "Get out of my conference room! If I needed you, I would have called you! Out!" Al hollered at him. "Dismissed!"

The Marine stood ramrod straight and saluted the Admiral. "Yes, sir." Then he exited the room.

Al slammed his hand down on the table he was standing by. "Tell me," he said trying to calm himself down.

Julianna jumped at the action, taking a step back before breathing shakily. She didn't think she had ever been so scared in her life. She could face down terrorists with assault rifles, ride tanks into battle, and even kill the enemy with her bare hands. But she couldn't face Al being angry with her for any reason.

"I'm in trouble, Al. In real trouble," she admitted quietly. "And I don't know what to do." Her voice cracked slightly at her last word.

Al turned to her and stepped up to her meeting her face to face. "Let me help you… that's what you need to do," he said softly as he looked into her eyes. "I can't help if you shut me out."

"And I can't let you in without ruining your career as well," she told him, tears in her eyes. Dammit! Don't cry! For Pete’s sake, you're a Naval officer!

Tears from a woman who had taken a bullet and laughed at it. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. He reached out to her to take her into his embrace but was surprised when she jumped at his touch. Something is terribly wrong here, Al thought patiently then lightly took her short sleeve and moved it up slowly, only to see the black and blue bruises on her upper arms. "Gawd, what happened?" he asked as he checked the other arm as well to find the same bruising.

Julianna took a deep breath, trying to find the words to admit what she never wanted Al to know. "He was hurting me," she whispered. "I couldn't stop him."

Al couldn't believe his ears. He took a shaky breath. "Who?"

"Who do you think?" she said quietly, trying to step away from him to spare him from seeing her injuries further.

"It was either Bartlett or Karuth. Weitzman, the poor bastard, … I… " Al saw the look on her face when he mentioned Weitzman. She looked absolutely devastated. "I'm sorry, Jules. I wasn't thinking…" he said as he took another step towards her wanting to console her. He knew how she personalized with every person that she protected.

She took a step back from him, not wanting to be touched. "It's my fault. I didn't check the plane thoroughly enough. If I did, I would have seen that the engines were faulty." She took a shaky breath, trying to keep herself from going over the edge.

Al sighed. "It's not your fault, Jules. It's not." Al took a step back away from her as he thought about what he needed to say next. 

"He said it was," she whispered, her voice indicating that her words related directly to the bruises on her arms.

Knowing Bartlett from his time here at the Project, Al knew who she was talking about. Karuth, that pernicious prick.

"Karuth didn't know what the hell he was talking about." And if he wasn't already dead, I'd kill him, Al thought to himself seeing how he had hurt his friend. "Tell me what happened on the plane, Captain," he said in a very commanding tone.

She winced at the tone. "I don't remember," she told him.

"You're not telling me the truth, Captain. Tell me what happened on that plane, and that's an order," Al said as he blankly looked at her, trying to be the commanding officer for which he was known.

She swallowed and straightened herself, forcing herself to remain calm. "He beat the crap out of me, sir," she stated firmly. "The Senator… The Senator had died and Mr. Karuth decided to punish me for his death." Her face became utterly sad. 

Al blinked at her words, but didn't say a word, wanting her to continue on her own accord. He nodded, but did not accept the actions that Mr. Karuth had so evidently inflicted upon her. "Go on," he said softly.

"Bartlett…" She bit her lip. "He tried to stop him… but Karuth… he… he killed him." She took a shaky breath as she shook her head and leaned against a wall, rubbing her hands through her hair. "I… I tried, Al. Gawd, I tried so hard." Tears began to roll down her cheeks as she slowly slid to the floor. "Keep him away from me, Al. Please."

Al rubbed his face as he listened to her. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Oh, gawd," he whispered as he heard her last words. She thinks that he'll still hurt her from the grave, he thought sadly, finally going to her. He gently cupped her face with his hands. "Everything will be all right, Jules," he said looking straight into her eyes. "Trust me, okay? Come here." He motioned into his arms, wanting her to want to be there, instead of forced into his arms. After what that putz had done, he wasn't about to force her into anything except his help. 

She shook her head. "But don't you see, Al? I'm a murderer. I murdered him in cold blood." She wiped at her tears, cursing herself for letting her emotions get away from her.

Al shook his head. "I don't believe that. If he was hurting you, it was self-defense. Cut and dry. And, we can get through this…" he started only to see her shake her head, this time more firmly. 

"It wasn't self-defense. It was revenge!" she said loudly. "Revenge for Senator Weitzman… and Bartlett… and for… And that hearing will show that there's enough evidence to hold a court-martial and then… Gawd, I don't want to die! Not like this!"

Al didn't know what to say or do. He seemed to be caught in the middle… his friend and his job. He had jeopardized his job before for a friend, and he'd willingly do it again. "You won't die," he said softly and firmly.

"No, I'll just sit in a cell in Leavenworth for the rest of my life," she said quietly. "And he'll be there. He'll never leave me alone, Al. Why won't he leave me alone?!" She buried her head under her arms in a defensive posture that a person might make if they were under mortar fire… or awaiting a blow to the head.

Al watched helplessly as she started to withdraw away from him. He was trying to figure out how he could help her without putting his hands physically on her. He didn't want to aggravate any bruises further. "Umm…" he began slowly. "Umm… how about you and I go get a chocolate sundae?" he asked softly. "We have all the fixings in the cafeteria," he said knowing that Beth loved those monstrosities.

Julianna slowly raised her head and looked at him strangely. "How can you think of ice cream at a time like this?" She took a couple of breaths before standing up quickly. "I have to go," she told him abruptly, starting for the door.

"No… wait…" Al said as he watched her walk out of the door only for the Marine to glance inside the room before taking off behind her. 

Al hurried to try and catch up with her. "Jules, wait!" he said as he called again to her, finally catching up with the bulky young man. "Move it, Arnold!" he ordered the young Marine and walked around him to look at Julianna. She lowered her head, not wanting to look at Al. 

Al used his index finger to raise her head to look at him. "Please, please, let me help you, Julianna."

She took a breath and gave a hint of a smile. "You never call me Julianna."

"I do now," Al said softly. "Don't shut me out. Let me help you."

"You can't help me, Al," she said softly. 

Hurt, Al asked harshly, not caring if the Incredible Hulk beside him was watching him or not, "Then why in the hell did you come all the way out here? You could have told me on the phone not to testify. There's a reason why you came. Why, Julianna? And dammit, don't lie to me."

She took a shaky breath. "I just needed one person to believe me. And… I needed to say good-bye."

Al shook his head. "No… don't you dare say that word again to me. It's not good-bye. I'm… I believe you, Jules. I do… but you won't let me help." He looked at her firmly. "I'm going to do it anyway. I'll be there at that hearing come hell or high water."

She pursed her lips, sniffling away the tears. "Just keep him out of that hearing," she whispered tightly. "I don't want him gloating over me ever again."

Al closed his eyes sadly knowing that she was again slipping over an edge. So, he said the only thing that he thought that she needed to hear. "He won't be there. I won't let him."

She gave him a gentle smile before kissing him on the cheek, an act so very unlike her. "Thank you, Al." 

Al nodded, holding his emotions in check. He didn't like how she was acting. "Why don't you stay here for a little while longer? You know, Bena, Beth, Donna, and Tina, I bet they'd all like to see you." And I can have Bena take a look at you. Al pivoted to the Marine. "Is there a problem with her staying here for one night, Arnold?"

‘Arnold’ sniffed at the nickname that he'd been given and glanced between the two of them. "I'd have to call and verify any arrangements being made for the… the…"

"Call her by her name, moron," Al said hotly.

Glancing between the two of them, the Marine said again, "Pardon… Captain Thomas." 

"All right now, Green Avenger, go find out. I'll stay with her," Al said in a commanding tone. Al saw the way that the gentleman looked at both of them and didn't move. "That's an order, Marine."

"Yes, sir," the Marine said loudly then turned to go back to the conference room.

Julianna looked at Al with question. "You're going to get in trouble, Al." 

Al shrugged his shoulders. "When am I not in trouble, hmmm?"

She giggled at his response, moving into his arms for a hug. 

"Now… there's the Julianna, that I remember," he said, surprised as she moved into his arms. He gently hugged her back, not wanting to hurt her. "I care an awful lot about you. I'm here for you."

She tightened her grip on him, beginning to sob yet again, this time onto his shoulder, staining the silk shirt he wore with her tears.

Al held her close as she cried, knowing that she probably just needed to do just that… cry. But it was tearing him apart inside. He never could take a woman crying. "How about that chocolate sundae?" he asked softly.

She nodded slightly. "With banana chips and sprinkles," she said quietly.

Al made a face at her comment only to sigh. Gawd, how I hate banana chips and sprinkles. "Yeah, with banana chips and sprinkles."

"You hate banana chips and sprinkles," she commented slowly.

"Actually, since you started Beth on them, I've grown quite fond of them," Al said obviously lying to her.

"Liar," she stated, pulling away from him and looking at him with a teasing glare. She turned her head to see if the Marine had returned. She suddenly felt ready to bolt. Sensing her tension, Al stopped playing with her, especially when 'Arnold' had shown back up. 

"Well?" Al asked. 

"I'm sorry, Admiral. That would be too long of a delay. We need to get going, Captain Thomas," he said respectfully.

"About time you got that right, soldier," Al mimicked.

Julianna shook her head firmly, taking steps away from the Marine. Despite her actions, there seemed to be a spark in her eyes, as if she found the answer, an answer that had been right in front of her eyes the entire time. "No. I'm not going back."

Al turned toward her seeing her about to take flight down the hallway. He could see the spark in her eyes and it frightened him.

The Marine took two quick steps and caught her by the upper arm. "Sorry, Captain. We're going back to Washington."

She screamed at his grip and yanked her arm away before running quickly down the hallway. She knew it was the wrong thing to do but she couldn't help herself. She had to get away from him.

The Marine dropped to on knee. "Stop or I'll shoot!"

Al stood behind him completely confused by the whole scene unfolding before his very eyes. "Jules! NO!" Al yelled as she kept running away.

Suddenly, the corridor echoed the shot that was fired from the Marine's gun. Julianna rocked forward, her back arched in pain as she fell to the floor with a thud. She shuddered painfully, her eyes glazing over.

Al quickly grabbed the gun away from the Marine and tossed it back away from him. "You ass!" He quickly ran up to her and picked her head up in his lap. "Julianna? Honey, look at me."

Her eyes opened and gazed at Al, looking very much lost. "At least this way he won't hurt me anymore," she whispered.

"ZIGGY! MED TEAM! STAT!" Al hollered at the ceiling. Looking back at her, tears welled up in his eyes. "Don't say that. Don't say your good-byes. Don't."

A gentle smile crossed her lips. "I wish it had been in the act of protecting you, sir." Her eyes closed slowly as she went completely limp in his arms.

"ZIGGY!" Al hollered as he brought Julianna up into his arms. "No! Jules? Come on, girl…" Tears fell down his cheek. He glanced back at the Marine still on his one knee. "Get down here and help!"

The Marine jumped at the order and obeyed, going to his side and carefully laying her on the floor while applying pressure to the wound he had caused. Julianna's eyes remained closed as her breathing stopped and her heart stilled.

Al quickly began to go into rescue mode. He began to perform CPR on her with hopes that the cavalry would arrive soon. 'Arnold' watched his actions, helping where he could before stopping and touching Al's arm. 

"She's dead, sir."

"No!" Al yelled at him slapping the hand away from his arm. "It's not over until I say it's over." He continued to perform the recommended 3 pumps, 3 breaths routine. 

The Marine watched with reluctance to interrupt but with knowledge of the truth. "Sir," he said carefully. "It's over. She's gone." He was obviously not pleased with the news, seeing how the Admiral was being affected.

After a minute more and seeing no result, Al knew the Marine was right. He bent down, placing his hand on her forehead. "I told you not to say your good-byes. That was an order, Captain." Tears fell down his cheeks and he finally turned to the Marine at her side. 

Beth and a med team hurried onto the scene, a gurney just behind them. "Al?" Beth questioned with concern, as she rushed over. She stopped and gasped at her husband's next actions.

Before anyone could stop him, and before he could respond to Beth, Al drew back and punched the Marine twice as hard as he could, knocking him back against the corridor wall. "How dare you shoot anyone in my complex! "

The Marine, his head bleeding from the knock on the wall, turned back towards him. "She was escaping, sir," he said, remaining as calm as he could.

Again, Al popped 'Arnold' twice again, knocking him down again. "She is in my complex… my care… I'm responsible for people in my complex. I'll take the blame for this, you asshole. Get up and it will be the last time that you do."

'Arnold' remained on the floor, in severe pain from the second set of blows from the angry man. He gasped, trying to gain his breath.

"Who?" Beth demanded. "Who was trying to escape?" She saw the body on the ground and gasped yet again. "Oh, gawd!" She quickly knelt by the form, tears in her eyes. She carefully touched the forehead and the neck of the woman lying on the floor, searching for a pulse. "Gawd, no!" she whispered painfully.

Hearing her whisper, Al remarked, "I tried. I failed." He said softly, "I failed her."

Beth looked at him with sadness, standing and going to him. She took him into her arms and held him tightly. "You didn't fail her, Al. You won't fail her." She rubbed her hand over his hair soothingly.

Al closed his eyes at Beth's touch. He understood exactly what she meant. He wouldn't fail her. He had another chance. Slowly he stood and moved away from her. He looked down at Julianna's body and the blood that was beginning to puddle around her. Shaking his head at the scene, he shot off down the hall heading toward the Control Room. "Ziggy!" he hollered as he ran, "Get the Imaging Room online stat!"




Somewhere in the Rocky Mountains

April 7, 2000


Julianna rubbed her face with frustration before slamming down the screwdriver in her hand. It was no use. The radio in the cockpit was irreparable which meant that she and the others would probably be waiting for a long time for a rescue team to find them. To top it off, it was way past midnight and she was exhausted from the work. Great, she thought sarcastically. Just freaking great. And with that asshole here to gloat about how he was right all along about my incompetence. What possessed Weitzman into hiring that jerk as an aide in the first place?

As she was lamenting over the useless radio, Sam entered the cockpit, a saddened look on his face. Julianna turned towards him with question, knowing that the news wasn’t good.

"Senator Weitzman just died," Sam told her quietly.

"Gawd," she whispered, closing her eyes sadly. She was quiet for a moment before she spoke up, obviously not liking what she had to say. "We should take care of him, then. Strip the body of the clothes and put it someplace out of the way until the rescue team arrives."

Sam nodded at her practicality and at the sad look in her eyes. It must be tearing her apart on the inside, he thought, his heart going out to the beautiful woman. He knelt beside her, touching her shoulder gently. "Mr. Karuth said that he wanted to take care of that. He’s already taken the body outside." He looked at her with concern. "Are you going to be okay?"

She nodded slowly. "Yeah, I’ll be okay." She stood slowly, brushing herself off, revealing a bruise on her left thigh as she stood.

Sam frowned at the intensity of that bruise. "Are you sure you weren’t hurt in the crash, Captain?"

Julianna looked at him with question. "Positive. Why do you ask?" She followed his gaze to her thigh and noted the bruise that was forming. "Maybe I was hurt in the crash," she commented quietly. By some bastard trying to hurt me in a much more sensitive area.

Sam raised an eyebrow at her comment. "Forgive me, ma’am, but that wasn’t there when I checked you out earlier."

"Stop with that ma’am crap," she told him gently. "Call me Jules. Al calls me that so why shouldn’t his best friend call me that too?"

Sam shrugged slightly before realizing what she said. He looked at her with question. "What did you say?"

She took a step towards him. "I know who you really are, Sam Beckett."

"B… But how?"

"Well, for one, you don’t act like Bartlett." She looked into his eyes. "You care too much. For another, I noticed you talking to yourself a while ago and I just got a weird feeling that Al was somewhere near. I could always tell when he was around. Plus, I do know practically everything about Project Quantum Leap. Comes with my job. So, it was a logical conclusion that you were Dr. Sam Beckett." 

Sam exhaled at her words, wondering how to handle the situation. He was saved from further embarrassment by the sound of Al’s voice behind him. 

"Sam, we have to talk," Al said as firmly as he could, motioning the scientist to follow him. He closed his eyes tightly, swallowing before clearing his throat. He had to focus on the leap or he would wind up weeping again.

Sam gave a brief nod in Al’s direction, turning towards Julianna for a moment. "If you need me, just call, okay?"

Julianna smiled gently up at him, sadness in her eyes as they met with Sam’s in a lock. "You can count on that, Doctor."

Sam hesitated before nodding, leaving the cockpit behind to see Al rapidly pressing buttons on the handlink, determined to try to get information from Ziggy on how to prevent the tragedy in the corridor. Al growled angrily, reading the handlink.

"What is it?" Sam questioned carefully.

"Ziggy finally got the information we need from the Pentagon’s computer…" He glared at the ceiling. "… but it’s too damn late!" He sighed, looking at Sam before shaking his head. "Sorry," he whispered for his anger.

Sam frowned with great concern. He took a step towards the hologram. "What does Ziggy say?"

"Apparently, Jules gave a full confession before she… died." 

"What did you just say?" Sam asked in a quiet voice.

Al swallowed tightly before answering, forcing his emotions to the back of his mind. "Jules is dead," he said quietly. "She… she was… shot while trying to escape." He lowered his head, reading the information on the handlink, hoping for some kind of distraction from his aching heart. "Oh, my gawd!" he breathed, horrified by what he read. "I’ll kill the bastard!" He started marching towards the front of the plane.

Sam hurried to him, stopping him by standing in front of him and calling his name. "Al! Al, calm down. Tell me what happened."

Al exhaled, knowing that Sam was right. His getting angry wasn’t going to save his friend’s life. He took a shaky breath, lowering the handlink.

"Karuth," he said plainly, hatred in his voice. "He messed with her mind and body so much that she… she lost it, Sam. The woman who died in my arms wasn’t the same woman she was before the crash. He… he beat her, Sam. Forced her to… Gawd, I don’t even want to think about what he made her eat! It isn’t any wonder that she refused to eat and drink to the point where they had to put a feeding tube down her throat. It’s no wonder she lost her mind." He took a shaky breath and looked at him with pleading. "Don’t let that monster touch her, Sam."

Sam thought about Al’s words and the heartfelt plea. He nodded in agreement to his words but hesitated to tell Al what he discovered. 

Al could see the hesitation in his eyes. "What? What is it?" he demanded.

Sam exhaled slowly. "He’s already started on her, Al. She won’t tell me where she got them but she had a nasty bruise on her thigh and one on her neck right about here." He pointed to his own Adam’s apple.

Al closed his eyes tightly. "Gawd, why won’t she say anything?" He started pacing rapidly. "She’s not like those women who won’t admit that something’s wrong, that someone’s hurting them, Sam. So, why isn’t she talking to someone?" He stopped, a thoughtful look in his eyes. "Unless…"

Sam looked at him with question, seeing that Al had realized something. "Unless what?" 

Al punched several buttons on the handlink, searching for the information to prove his theory. He nodded after a moment. "Now that sounds like Jules."

"What does?" Sam asked, becoming slightly impatient with the hologram.

"She submitted a formal complaint against Karuth just before she left on this trip. She went into details about how he verbally abused her and other women she knew." Al swallowed tightly. "Guess she was just waiting to slap a lawsuit against him after the trip but then everything changed."

"Karuth started to get physical," Sam concluded. 

"And Jules is the kind of woman who takes care of herself last. It’s one of the reasons why she’s such a good bodyguard," Al finished for him.

Sam nodded with understanding. "So, we know why she was so withdrawn. But what happened with the others? Where did they disappear to?"

Almost as if on cue, Karuth entered the plane from outside. "Dinner’s ready if anyone’s hungry."

Julianna entered the area at the same time, walking up to him with question. "Where did you put the Senator?"

Karuth smiled almost wickedly, leaving no doubt as to what he did. Sam’s eyes widened in shock, feeling like he was about to throw up while Al closed his eyes tightly.

Julianna took a step back from him, shock on her face. "You are a sick bastard, Karuth." She marched towards the exit. "I’m not going to let you do this."

Karuth grabbed her arm viciously and turned her around, grabbing the other arm tightly and forcing her against the wall. "Oh, yes, you are, Captain. The way I see it, it’s about time someone here thought about how we’re going to survive in this godforsaken wilderness and you’re just not cutting it."

Sam rushed to her aide, seeing her wince from Karuth’s grip. "Let her go!" he ordered, yanking on his shoulder strongly, causing the man to release his grip on Julianna.

Karuth quickly turned around, pulling out a gun as he did so and aiming it at Sam. Before he had the chance to pull the trigger, Sam kicked the gun from his hand, sending it flying across the cabin.

The two men struggled with each other, each trying to get the upper hand. Karuth forced Sam against the same wall Julianna had been against, ready to inflict a damaging blow to his skull.

Suddenly, he cried out in pain, releasing Sam as he grabbed his left arm in a protective manner. He turned quickly and glared at the reason for his pain.

Julianna stood several feet away, the gun leveled at his chest, a fiery look in her eyes. She cocked the pistol a second time in a threatening manner.

"Move away from him," she ordered firmly. "NOW!"

Karuth slowly obeyed, a condescending look in his eyes. "You won’t kill me, Captain. You haven’t the guts."

"Don’t count on it, scuzbag," she growled at him. "Tie him up," she ordered Sam firmly. "We’ll see how long it takes for him to get on my nerves before I blow his brains out."

Al’s eyebrow rose at her words. "I’d say she’s a little pissed off, Sam."

Sam grabbed a couple of electrical cords from the damaged ceiling to tie their prisoner. He approached him carefully, watching both Julianna and Karuth as he began to tie Karuth’s hands together.

The hard kick to his chest was unexpected and painful, causing him to fall to the floor with a loud grunt. A moment later, there was a loud explosion, causing Sam to look up.

Karuth fell to the floor in a heap while Julianna continued to hold the gun steadily in front of her, her eyes wide with tension, her breathing rapid. 

Al quickly went to her side, looking at her with concern. "It’s over, baby. Put down the gun." He looked towards Sam.

Sam took Al’s lead and approached Julianna carefully before slowly taking the gun from her hands. "Are you okay, Julianna?" he asked softly.

She nodded after a moment, still staring at Karuth’s body on the floor of the plane. She took a deep breath and let it out quickly. "I need a drink. Do we have a beer hiding around here somewhere?" She started to walk away in search of the illusive alcoholic beverage.

Al smiled widely with relief, laughing at her question. "She’s fine, Sam. She’s just fine. Thank God."

Sam smiled with relief and exhaled. "So, what happens now?" 

Al raised the handlink to see what Ziggy had to say about the revised history. "Well, they are still having a hearing about what happened on this plane but the focus isn’t on Jules anymore. Thanks to her testimony and the evidence at hand, they find out that Karuth was to blame for the whole thing after all. He actually set up the crash to see Jules fail." He pressed another button. "Both Jules and Bartlett get rescued five days from now and they were both in good health, if a little dirty. Jules and he make sure that Weitzman’s and Karuth’s bodies are recovered properly."

"And she doesn’t die," Sam stated as a fact.

Al shook his head. "No, she doesn’t die." He wiped his face with his palm. "She’s been talking to a counselor to see if she’s mentally fit for active duty." He looked at his friend gratefully. "Looks like you’re ready to leap."

Sam shook his head. "There’s just one more thing," he said as he walked into the cockpit to see Julianna sitting in the pilot’s seat, nursing her bruised arms.

Al frowned slightly at his words, watching him going towards the cockpit. "I hope you know what the hell you're doing, Sam," he commented quietly as he entered the exiting sequence to leave the Imaging Chamber.

Julianna raised her eyes to Sam when he entered the cockpit. She gave him a gentle smile. "Hi."

Sam gently grinned at her as her eyes once again, captivated him. They seemed to pull him to her. "Hi." He went to her and lightly raised her sleeve up on her arm to look at the bruises that Karuth had put there. He shook his head as he ran his fingers slightly over the purplish-blue spots.

She winced slightly at his touch. "It's a little tender but I'll live." She looked into his eyes, seeing past the aura of Bartlett, and took a breath. This is ridiculous, she thought. She hesitated, unsure what to say before coming up with, "Al went home for the evening?"

Sam nodded his head. "Yes, he did. He's very worried about you, Julianna, and so am I." Sam once again looked into her eyes and brought his hand up to push back a stray lock of hair back behind her ear.

She smiled at his sentiment. "Well, I'm a big girl." She struggled not to shiver as he moved that lock, feeling strangely excited by his gentle graze.

"So I've noticed." He finally knelt down in front of her, looking up into her face as he laid his hand softly on her knee.

She slowly lowered her head to look at his hand, a wry smile on her face. I shouldn't feel this way. He's a married man, after all, even if he doesn't remember. She shook her head slowly.

Sam moved his hand from her knee seeing how she shook her head, misunderstanding and almost turned away from her. Are you insane? he asked himself as he slowly turned back to her. "Julianna…" he started, wanting to see her eyes once more.

She raised her head towards his face at the sound of her name, anticipation in her eyes. "Yes, Sam?" She wanted to tell him how much she wanted to hold him but she didn't know if she could. It had been so long since she had even felt this way about someone.

He looked back into her eyes searchingly. He came up on his knees, and slowly ran his hand up her arm forgetting about the bruises, and up her shoulder, then neck only to rest against her cheek, his thumb lightly brushing her cheek under her eye. "You are so beautiful," he said softly.

She closed her eyes as she felt his hands move up to her face slowly. His soft words made her open her eyes to look into his. "Please, Sam, don't say anything unless you really mean it."

His right thumb lightly brushed her lips, moving over them, quieting her from talking. "You are beautiful," he repeated softly as he moved very slowly toward her. His thumb continued to trace over her mouth as his gaze went back and forth from her eyes to her mouth.

She didn't resist him, inching her way closer to him. "I don't know if I can do this, Sam," she said quietly. "It's been so long and I..." I know a hell of a lot more about you than you know about yourself.

Sam cut off whatever she was going to say by placing his lips to hers, and softly encircling his arms around her body, pulling her to him in a passionate embrace and kiss. 

She returned the passion, increasing it as she held him tightly, and every thought of hesitance leaving her mind. When their lips parted, she was panting excitedly, nibbling on his ear gently. "I love you, Sam. I've loved you since the day I first saw you."

Sam placed soft tender kisses on her shoulder, traveling up to her ear, and whispered, "I love you, too." He slowly turned in the small space that he had, and pulled her to him only to kiss her passionately again, as he slowly lowered her to the floor of the cockpit.

Julianna took a deep breath, looking at him with yearning. "Oh, Sam. You have no idea… You don't really know me." She gazed at him softly, unsure how to act. She knew she was truly in love with him but couldn't forget her responsibilities. She had had to close herself off. It was part of the job. And now she was in love with someone she could never keep.

Hearing those words, Sam gazed into her eyes seeing the loneliness that had surrounded her. He could see her shutting down on him, her mind running into hyper-drive, but her body obviously saying something totally different. His hand came up her side, only to begin playing with the buttons on her shirt. "Then let me show you," he said softly.

She sighed at his touch, wanting him to continue but not knowing what would happen if he did. "Of all the people in this world, why did I have to fall for you?" Her hands reached up to undo his shirt.

Once Sam had unfastened the buttons of her shirt, he slowly ran his hand down her side, against her skin and down to her stomach, his fingers making slow circles. "Let me show you," he whispered again, gazing deep into her eyes once more.

The moment he looked into her eyes, speaking in that soft whisper, every hesitation she had left as if the wind picked it up and carried it out the window. She reached up and, putting her hands around his neck, gently guided him towards her. She whispered gently in his ears. "Sam, make love to me. I need you so much."

Sam had his answer in her request and he lowered his mouth to hers once more, letting the passion that he had felt since the beginning of this leap, flow through his very being. The kiss itself was a deep, slow, intense kiss that lingered, only for it to slowly begin to become more urgent. His hands began to roam over her body, enticing her, letting her know that he intended to please her if she'd let him. When her hands came down on top of his own hands, he again had his answer.

Feeling his touch on her body, she gently placed hers on top, helping him, guiding him, urging him not to stop in his tender embraces. Feeling truly loved in return for her love, she gave into his gentle demands.

Using a blanket that they had found in a closet, they laid covered up on the cockpit floor. In the small space, they laid against each other, spooned. Sam was lightly tracing her arm, as he softly whispered to her, "I love you."

Almost on cue, the sound of the Imaging Chamber door seemed to fill the small cockpit, allowing Al to return from the past with a slight frown of confusion on his face. 

Hearing the Imaging Chamber door open, Sam immediately tensed, knowing that he was about to have the reaming of a lifetime. Softly he added, "Al's here."

Al looked around the cockpit, blinking to see in the night lighting. Hearing Sam's whisper, he turned. He hesitated only a moment before his eyes became as wide as teacup saucers.

Julianna turned her head toward him and sighed.

"Sam!" His eyes went to Julianna with a frown. "Jules? What the hell…" He glared at Sam. "You call this one more thing?!"

Julianna sat up with the blanket covering the front half of her body, revealing to Al her flattering backside. "Al, quit yelling and calm yourself down before you have an aneurysm," she said as she turned her head towards him.

"Al.…" Sam said as he quickly got up and got dressed. 

Al raised his eyebrows with surprise, looking towards Julianna's back with question. "An aneurysm? Jules, you can't hear me, can you?" 

"No, Al, she can't hear you. But she knows you well enough." Sam smiled at her softly as he spoke to his holographic friend.

Al's gaze returned to Sam, a strong frown on his face. "And it's obvious I don't know you as well as I thought." There was obvious anger in his voice. "Sam, how could you?!" Al sighed, his eyes briefly grazing her form. "Then again…" He shook his head before returning the glare at Sam.

Julianna quickly began to get dressed. She turned to Al again. "Al, you better be looking the other way, dammit! But, if you want to ream on someone, hello! It's me. You know… and I know that you know this one… it takes two to tango."

Sam couldn't help but grin at her words. "She knows you quite well, Al." 

Al frowned at him strongly. "And you don't know her as well as I do." He shook a finger at him. "I swear, Sam…"

Sam's grin faded and the only thing that he knew came out, "I love her, Al."

Julianna had finished dressing and went to Sam, placing her arms around his body, giving him a hug and a brief kiss on his lips. "I love him too, Al."

Al's eyes widened at their words, his gaze shifting from Sam to Julianna. He took a step back, taking a breath. "Damn," he muttered as quietly as he could, turning around so that he didn't have to look at the couple. He wiped his hand over his face, wondering how he was going to handle the situation.

Julianna looked down, remembering how Al had been so long ago. "Don't curse, Al. I know that this isn't what you wanted to stumble upon, but it happened. And if I know you, you'll try to be the perfect diplomat here and try to say the right things… because you are just that way. I don't regret what happened. Sam…" She looked up at Sam and smiled at him. "Perhaps I should leave."

Sam began to shake his head then slowly nodded to her words. He kissed her once more before she turned to leave. She stopped approximately where she thought Al was. "Al," she said, hoping that she was correct in her assumption. 

Al turned upon hearing his name, finding himself looking directly at her. He frowned slightly, wondering how she could tell when he was around, even now with him as a hologram.

"Al, I know that you're still here, so just listen to me for a minute." She looked down and looked back up, her gaze intent at the air in front of her. "You and I are so in tune, it's not even funny. You know how things with me were… are. Just think about that before you go and admonish him for something that we both wanted to happen. Capishe?" She finally turned and walked out of the cockpit.

Al took a deep breath before exhaling slowly, watching her leave. "Capishe," he answered quietly before sighing and shaking his head. He scratched the side of his head, turning towards Sam. His eyes indicated that he wanted some kind of logical explanation from his friend but the anger was now a low simmer.

Sam crossed his arms and leaned back against one of the chairs as he looked at Sam. "Al, I… I love that woman. How could I not show her how I feel?" Sam asked him. "And don't go and tell me that you don't feel the same way about Beth every night."

Al exhaled at his words. He closed his eyes, raising his eyebrows at the same time. "I know, Sam. I know." He rubbed his face again, his hands resting on the back of his neck as he rubbed the ache away.

Sam looked at Al with concern. "Is there something that I should be aware of Al? Does something still happen to Julianna? Why does this have you so bothered? If I remember right, which I only have a limited supply of memories at the moment, someone kept telling me that I should live my days wild and free, and bed every maiden that I should come across."

Al shook his head. "No, nothing happens to Jules. She does fine. She's probably healthier than I can recall in a long time." He didn't bother answering Sam's other question, hoping that the scientist would forget he even asked it. Fat chance, Calavicci, he thought to himself, closing his eyes and exhaling.

"Well, that's good then. But, you didn't answer my question. Why does this bother you so much?"

"She's my friend," Al answered, slowly raising his head. "I don't want to see her hurt."

"You think that I'd actually hurt her?" Sam questioned as he came off the seat and came up to his holographic friend. 

"NO! Of course not, Sam!" Al said quickly.

"Alright, then, what's your problem, Calavicci?" Sam asked frankly.

"What's my problem?! She's too damn close to the project, Sam! That's my problem! You have no idea what you're doing, what you have done!" He shook his head.

Sam raised his voice. "What?! What have I done!?" Sam asked as he threw up him arms in despair.

Al exhaled. "I can't tell you," he said quietly. 

Sam slapped at the chair a few feet away from him. "Oh, that's right. The damn rules." 

"Yeah, the damn rules," Al repeated firmly. "Did you even think what the consequences might have been before you played horizontal exploration with her? She's Weitzman's bodyguard…"

"Yes, Al. I did. Correction, she was Weitzman's bodyguard. If you don't remember, he's dead," Sam said sadly remembering what Karuth had done to the Senator.

Al wiped his hand over his face, turning from Sam. "I guess I shouldn't blame you at all. After all, you can't possibly know. But Jules can. And does. Damn," he muttered again.

"Know what?" Sam walked around to be in front of Al. "Know what, Al? Don't play riddles. Don't play games. Tell me. Better yet, I'll just get Jules here." Before Al could stop him, he opened the door and yelled out, "Julianna! Come here, please!"

"No!" Al said firmly. He winced, seeing that he had already called for the woman.

"Then tell me."

Al closed his eyes tightly. "I... I can't, Sam." His eyes went to Julianna as she looked inside and he shook his head.

Julianna came to the doorway and stopped inside looking around the room. "Al's still here?" she said, more a statement than a question.

"Yes, and I need your help, Jules," Sam said using Al's endearment.

"Jules…" Al started. Don't tell him, Jules.

Jules smiled at the nickname and went to Sam stopping halfway into the room. "What is it, Sam?"

"Why is Al so upset with finding us together? What do you know that I don't know? Al even said that you know something. What is it?"

Al swallowed before biting his bottom lip. He closed his eyes, just waiting for Sam's fury to assault him.

Jules straightened up her shoulders, her smile fading as the question was asked. She glanced around the room then finally, looking to her right, she glanced at a midpoint in the room. "I could tell you, Sam. But if Al hasn't told you, then I don't think that I should reveal it either," she said after swallowing.

Al exhaled slightly, relieved that the truth was hidden from him for now.

"What!?" Sam asked as he came up to her. "Jules, please tell me what you know. If I've done something that would hurt someone in the project or hurt the project in any way, I need to know."

"You didn't do anything wrong, Sam," Al interrupted. "Nothing that you need to know about."

Jules glanced around the room and back to Sam, not wanting to tell him anything when he lightly placed his hands on her shoulders getting her attention back to him. 


Jules’ whole body demeanor changed. She looked defeated. Al hated the look in her eyes, his heart breaking. He took a breath before swallowing, waiting for her words.

She closed her eyes then looked back up at Sam. "Sam, there is something that you should know." She took a shaky breath then met his eyes once more. "It does affect someone at the project. Someone very near and dear to you, Sam."

"Ah, geez, Jules," Al moaned, taking a step away from them, not wanting to be part of this scene.

Sam looked expectantly at her and nodded at her words.

Jules swallowed and hesitantly said, "It affects…" She looked around the room gesturing toward the holographic image in the room. "It affects Al, Sam."

Al's head rose at her words, shock on his face. He was glad that he wasn't facing Sam at that moment or Julianna's lie would never hold water. He turned slowly, having put on the appropriate face for the occasion. 

"You don't remember, but I was about to be married to the best man that I had ever met, and… well… Al found him that morning with one of my brides maids." Unshed tears came into her eyes. "Ever since then, I had strayed away from the cool, debonair types, the ones that always hit on you, well… except for Al, that is." She smiled a bit. "But, he knew how I felt about you, Sam. I told Al a long time ago that if ever there was a chance that a single guy like yourself ever found a way into my arms, I would hold on for dear life. You'll be gone soon… but I won't be alone anymore. I'll have you right here." She placed her hand to her heart and one small tear fell. "Al just doesn't want me to be hurt, and I don't want Al to be hurt from seeing me being hurt. We are so much alike, it's uncanny." Jules paused for a moment frowning. "Except for those Chocolate Sundaes with banana chips and sprinkles."

Al's face scrunched in disgust at her words. "Yuck," he said with a hint of emphasis. 

Sam looked at Al wonderingly then back to Jules. "Please don't be offended, but…" He looked back up at Al. "Is this what you were trying to hide from me?"

Al took a breath before nodding slowly, hating the lie the action meant. "Call me overly protective." So, it wasn’t an entire lie. She had been engaged and Al had caught one of her bride’s maids with the groom. But Al knew that Julianna could take care of herself.

Jules smiled. "He's an overly protective monstrosity. Doesn't even want me to be a bodyguard."

"Monstrosity?!" Al exclaimed in indignation. "Hey, I don't need a bodyguard, I'll have you know!"

She held up her hand to the invisible friend. "Yes, you do, Al. And one of these days, you'll see where you'll find me… I'll be your shadow."

Al took a step back, looking at her with question. "Sam, are you sure she can't hear me?"

Sam smiled at the interaction between the two of them. 

"No, Al. I can't hear you either," she said with a grin. "I can't see you either, but I know you. So… go home."

Sam shrugged not knowing exactly if she could or couldn't see him. "Al, I'm sorry… I didn't mean to get so upset. Or get you upset. I understand though. It must be that old age thing kicking in, right?" Sam asked with a grin on his face.

Al looked from Julianna to Sam and back before raising an eyebrow. He looked at Sam once again. He slowly smiled. "That and parenthood." And the fact that I made a promise to your wife. He raised the handlink slowly, pressing a few buttons. "Don't you think it's time you leaped?"

"You know…" Sam said as the tingling sensation began to form around him. "I do think it's time." He grinned as the blue electrical field passed over him, taking him away from Jules and Al.




Project Quantum Leap

Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico

May 4, 2000


Al smiled as he finished the final touches to the table settings, thinking about how in just a few minutes his lovely wife would come waltzing into the quarters. It was so rare for them to be able to have any time together, what with the leaps and Beth working in the infirmary. He was planning on this night to be magical in more than one way. To top it, he had decided to make Beth's favorite - Mexican.

A tight rap on the door called his attention away from the table.

His smile widened slightly. It sounded as if Beth had her hands too full to open the door. Quickly dusting off his hands, he went to the door and opened it only to frown at the revelation on the other side of the door. 

"Corporal," he stated without humor. "What do you want?"

The Corporal stood ramrod straight. "Sorry, I'm late, sir. I had some personal business to attend to; however, it won't happen again, sir."

"Late?" Al questioned with a raised eyebrow. 

"Yes sir. Where shall I take my post, sir? I suggest that inside would be best."

"How about you post yourself at Dr. Beckett's office door instead, Tenthenson?" He stated with strong sarcasm. "Better yet, take the rest of the night off."

"I can't, sir. SECNAV said it was a permanent full time assignment, sir."

"SECNAV is in D.C. We're in New Mexico. Take a hike, Corporal. That's an order," Al said, his impatience growing.

"I'm sorry, Admiral. My orders come directly from SECNAV. I cannot leave, sir. My apologies, sir. The Corporal said firmly.

"Fine," he said firmly and without even a hint of humor. "Then you can stay out here and out of our hair. Just once, I'd like to enjoy an evening with my wife without the entire world knowing about it."

"Sir, SECNAV said not to let you out of my sight." The Corporal looked past Al knowing that he was fixing to get the reaming that he had gotten just the other day from the Admiral, but stuck to his guns. He had his orders and he was going to follow them to the book.

"Then hide in a corner and mind your own business! I don't give a damn just stay out of our way! Got it?" He pointed a finger at him, letting him know that if he heard a peep from the Corporal, there would be consequences.

"Yes sir." The Corporal waited until Al moved out of the way before entering the room and lighted to a spot away from the table that Al had been preparing for his wife. Once at the corner closest to the table, he turned and still stood at attention, focusing his gaze across the room.

Great. Just great, Al thought sourly. Well, I'm not going to let Mr. Rambo get in the way of our date. He sighed, going into the kitchen. He set the meal on the table, covered and warming.

Al quickly turned when he heard the door open and smiled in return. "Surprise."

Beth entered the room with a smile. Seeing Al, she beamed at him. Seeing the table behind him, she broke into a giggle. "Oh heaven... he cooked too!" She went to him, wrapped her arms around him and kissed his neck seductively "I've been waiting for this night." She said huskily in his ear.

"Hey, hey, hey!" Al protested teasingly. "That's for dessert, remember?" He pulled away and looked at her mischievously. 

"Who says we can't have dessert first?" She said sweetly as she moved her eyebrows up and down. 

Al sighed, remembering the Terminator impersonator just to the side. "Protocol and Navy rules, I'm afraid. That and a peeping Tom."

"What?" she asked confused only to look around the room to find the corporal. She blushed and quickly looked away from him, embarrassed at her own display when someone else was in the room. "Oh, Al." She said softly as she pulled away from him. It's just one night."

He sighed. "Tonto over there won't let us. Orders from SECNAV." He took her hands and guided her to the table. "Forget about him, sweetheart. Let's have a good time regardless, okay? Come on. Not only did I cook, I made your favorite."

Beth sighed as she let Al move her across the room.

Looking down on the table to see shrimp, chicken and beef fajitas, frijoles, rice, with all the trimmings. "Oh, Al. You went to all of this trouble for me?" She turned to him and softly kissed his lips. "You shouldn't have."

"Nonsense," he told her, offering her a seat, sneaking a kiss to her cheek. He went around the table and sat before her with a smile.

Taking her seat, she looked at the table yet again. "And our favorite wine too!" She exclaimed. "You really out did yourself flyboy."

Al shrugged slightly, reaching for the wine to open it. He stopped when he saw the hand interrupt his actions.

Al frowned strongly. "What, Corporal? You think I'm going to poison my wife? Get back in the corner! Now!"

The Corporal stood there and licked at his lips before finally moving to the table. He reached for the wine bottle and picked it up, looking at the top of the bottle to see if it had been tampered with. Not considering that he was in anyway intruding on the dinner, he uncorked the wine, pouring a glass of wine for each of them, then moved back to his spot as ordered without saying a word.

Beth was shocked. She turned in her seat to look at Corporal Tenthenson oddly only to turn back to Al. "Al… I think that he was being polite. I think," she said raising one delicate eyebrow. "Thank you, Corporal Tenthenson," she said over her shoulder.

The Corporal only nodded briefly not wanting to intrude anymore.

Al growled slightly, not wanting to ruin Beth's evening. "I suppose." He sighed before lifting the cover off of the meal and reached for Beth's plate.

She handed him her plate and smiled at him. "So… how's Sam doing? Since she couldn't make loving comments in front of Tenthenson, she decided that small talk would do.

He grinned a bit, remembering what he had walked into at the end of the leap. "Let's just say that he is feeling very... good."

Beth smiled at the pause in Al's sentence. "Frisky?" She supplied afterwards. She knew that look. That look was the one that she got when he felt that way. And from the looks of it, he was.

Al chuckled a little bit. "That's one word for it. Gives me some interesting thoughts about us."

"Oh." She remarked as she licked her lips smiling at him as she hummed at him. "So... shall we dig in or what?" She said as she reached for her plate again, how full of food.

Al nodded in agreement and waited for her to take a bite.

Al smiled at the reaction before laughing. "I take it you approve," he commented as he began eating his own meal.

She folded the fajita that Al had made for her; just the way that she liked it. She took her first bite and physically melted. Her shoulders dropped, her eyes closed and she hummed in satisfaction. She finished chewing and swallowed before saying, "Very much so... this is excellent."

The radio on the Corporal's belt hissed. "Corporal Tenthenson."

Taking the radio in hand, he brought it up to his mouth. "Yes, go ahead."

Al tried to ignore the background sound of Tentheson speaking, focusing on his meal with Beth.

"There are some women here to see the Admiral and his wife. They are his daughters and one granddaughter."

"Alright. Routine clearance checks. Check everything, including diaper." He muttered into the radio, then placed it back to his belt before hearing the "Yes sir," back to him.

The moment Al heard the mention of his granddaughter, he turned his head towards the Corporal. 

Beth turned to the Corporal hearing it all and opened her mouth in shock. She wanted to say something to him, but she couldn't even think at the moment. How dare he have their daughters checked out like normal civilians?

Al quickly stood up, fury in his eyes, and marched up to Tentheson. "That's it!" He gave a hard right cross to the Corporal before marching to the door and opening it. "Belay that order! Now! You will NOT treat my children and grandchildren like luggage at an airport!" 

The Corporal straightened from the punch he had received and picked up the receiver. "Belay order. Send them down." He said slowly and looked at the Admiral firmly. "I'm sorry, sir."

"Bullshit!" Al shouted at him. "Get the hell out of my quarters! Better yet, get the hell out of this complex! Go back to Washington and let SECNAV know that you've been fired!"

The Corporal looked at Al but didn't move. He wasn't sure how he should act. SECNAV had given him explicit orders to stay no matter how irate the Admiral was with him. "Sir..." he started. "SECNAV..."

Beth had finally had enough as well. She stood up, pushing her chair back with her legs, and marched over to Tenthenson only to shove him toward the door. "The Admiral told you to get out. You've been fired. SECNAV can go to hell at the moment... I don't give a damn about SECNAV. Get out of this project... or I'll have you thrown out." She said as she stood beside Al.

Al grabbed Tentheson by his collar and literally threw him out of the quarters. "If you're not gone in the next ten minutes, I'm sending security to escort you out."

Tenthenson stood, having his pride bruised, and silently saluted the Admiral then walked away not saying a word.

"Of all the...." Beth said softly not finishing her sentence, only to wrap her arms around Al. "Thank you, Al. Thank you for getting rid of him. I didn't care for him at all."

Al gave a slight huff. "At least you didn't have him trying to follow you into surgery." He kissed her forehead lovingly. "Well, the girls are going to be here in a moment. Let's share dinner with them, make the best of it."

Beth nodded at his comment. "I think that would be great, hon." She shook her head as she headed back toward the table. "Nothing else could compare to that."



Julianna sat at the table in the sports lounge, drinking a dark lager and really enjoying it. It had been so long since she could just relax and not have to worry about getting drunk. She smiled when she saw the short Italian man enter the bar and look around the place. She raised her hand, waving him towards her.

Al smiled when he saw Julianna waving at him. He headed toward her in a beeline. Once at the table, he quickly bent over to hug her. "How are you doing, Jules?"

She returned the hug tightly, patting him on the back. "Just fine. Just fine. You look great!" She gently pushed him away and gestured him to the seat across from her. "Can I buy you a drink?"

Al grinned at her as he looked down at his choice of clothing that he had on today. He had worn his dark purple silk shirt and a dark pair of Navy khaki pants. "Thanks. But... I'll pass on the drink. You are the one who looks beautiful. What did you do? Get even more beautiful since the last time that I've seen you?" He said as he took a seat.

She chuckled. "Could be. After all, it's been a while."

"Yea... it has. What... six... no... eight years." Al recalled as he leaned forward on the table, putting his elbows on the table to lean against them.

"Give or take a few months," she told him, taking a drink. "Come on, Al. At least get something that looks like a drink! No one really likes to drink alone."

Al waved a hand at her. "All right." He found a waiter and motioned him over. "Could I get a glass of tea, please? No lemon," he ordered and sighed as the waiter walked away.

She raised an eyebrow. "Tea?" she chuckled. "Let me guess. Beth has you on a diet," she teased.

"No. No diet. Just...." Al closed his eyes as he felt the beginnings of a headache coming on. He opened his eyes once more. "Just like tea, actually."

Jules looked at him with a hint of question before shrugging. "Okay. By the way, how is she?"

"Beth? She's great. We just got to see our newest little one to grace the Calavicci clan. Her name is Jessica Raye. She's beautiful." Al beamed.

Jules smiled widely. "Bet she has her grandfather's unruly hair."

Al bobbed his head up and down as he laughed. "She does." He stopped and looked at his tea as it was sat before him. He took a small sip of it then looked at her once more. "So, Jules, why did you want to see me? Something up?"

She just smiled at his words, enjoying his company.

"I guess you could say that. I'm moving to better quarters," she told him.

Al looked at her confused. "Better quarters? Whaddya mean, are you moving off base?" he asked not quite understanding.

She nodded. "Permanently," she said, taking a drink.

"Retirement? You shouldn't retire Jules. You're younger than I am... by... well… you’re younger... you should keep going. Don't let a little set back...." He stopped hearing her sigh. "What's wrong?"

She looked in his eyes. "I can't do this job anymore, Al. I'm forty years old and..." She lowered her head. "I just can't do it anymore."

"Because of Weitzman?" he asked softly knowing that it was going to hurt her just by saying the words.

"For starters," she told him. "But that's not the only thing. I've risked my life for... well, since I was barely an adult for my country. I've struggled to get where I am and now..." She looked at him firmly. "I'm not a SEAL anymore, Al. At least not in action. I'm a... I'm a glorified recruitment poster for the Navy."

Al nodded understandingly. She had roughed through so many things. She did deserve a change of pace, he had to admit. "Okay. So you want to retire." He nodded. "What are you going to do?" he asked honestly wanting to know what she was going to do with the time that she'd have on her hands. She wasn't married and didn't have any children. Things were far opened up for her now. He hoped that she had something planned.

She lifted her mug one more time, finishing the lager quickly. "Right now, my only plan is to relax and try to get used to being a civilian."

Al frowned. He didn't like the sound of this. But he wasn't sure if he should voice his opinion about it or not. "Speaking of which, I just about made a Corporal a civilian the other night," he said changing the subject.

She started chuckling, almost visualizing the situation. "Bet he had to change his shorts." She motioned for the waiter to get a refill.

Al took another sip from his glass and frowned as he swallowed, not liking how she was drinking either. He was worried now about how the alcohol was going to effect her. "Ahm, Jules. I think that you've had enough. You have to drive home, don't you?" he asked as he placed the tumbler down again.

Jules frowned strongly at him, giving him a clear view of her eyes. It was now obvious that this wasn't in the least her second drink of the day. "Don't be ridiculous, Al. I'm an adult. Besides, I'm not dribing anywhere." She took her drink from the waiter and drank nearly half in a single breath.

Al shook his head. "And it's a good thing too." He muttered. "Listen, Jules. I know that you think that you're doing what's best for you... but I have a suggestion to make. May I?" he asked when he finally caught her eyes once again.

Jules growled slightly. "Al, I came here to have some fun with my friend. If you're going to be a party pooper...." She finished the drink quickly, standing up.

"Jules, please, sit down," he said as he looked up into her eyes, knowing that the alcohol she had drunk so quickly was going to be lethal on her in the morning. 

"Why? So you can go on lecturing me about how I should stay in the Navy?" she asked with a hint of belligerence. "Why should I? I'm a damn poster, Al! The minute I make a sound or take a leak, it's all over the news! The first female SEAL!" She slammed her hand on the table. "Well, I'm sick of it! I'm sick of doing my job and getting nothing!" She stormed towards the door.

Al jumped slightly as she slammed her hand down on the table and hopped up from the table, knowing that she was making a spectacle of herself in the establishment. He quickly went after her only catching up to her once he got outside. He lightly grabbed her arm, turning her toward him. "Jules, please. Will you please just listen to me for a minute?"

She pulled her arm away from him violently, losing her own footing in the process.

Al grabbed at her seeing her about to fall, and balanced her. "Please, don't do this, Jules. Please. Let's go back inside and sit down. Please. I won't lecture you. I... " He was going to hate saying it. "I have a proposition for you."

"But you're married," she said, shaking her head. She started away from the bar yet again, stumbling across the street towards a hotel. 

Al looked at her confused and started after her. 

Finally catching up with her, Al walked along side her. "Jules, this isn't a fling... this is a ... a job." 

She looked at him with a glare. "You mean a hand-out."

"Dammit, woman. Will you stop acting like I would treat you that way. Stop it right now. " Al threw his arms about emphasizing his words. "It's not MY fault that SECNAV wants ME to have a BODYGUARD." He pointed a finger at her. "They sent me one... one who was a complete and total idiot! I need someone who will...." He looked at Jules once more not knowing how she was taking this all in. After all, she was just about three sheets to the wind.

She struggled through the door. "Leave me alone, will ya, Al? You're no fun anymore." She made her way to an elevator and pressed the call button.

Al threw up his arms in vain and walked after her muttering to himself. "Great... just great."

The elevator hadn't even arrived before her shoulders started shaking roughly. Her lips pursed tightly before she bit down on her bottom lip. Silently, she leaned forward against the doors of the elevator.

Al walked up to Jules seeing her starting to shake. "Jules? Jules, hon, are you okay?" Al went directly to her, putting his arm around her waist, taking her weight onto him. "Jules?"

She turned to him quickly, holding him tightly, fighting to keep from crying. "I can't take it anymore, Al. I can't."

Al wrapped his arms around her, holding her, knowing that what she needed right now, was just to be held. "It's okay, Jules. It's okay to cry." He said softly in her ear. "I'm here. I'm not going anywhere. Come on. Lets go talk."

She took a shaky breath before nodding slowly, not a tear having escaped. "SEALs don't cry," she said as the elevator door opened and she stepped in. After a moment, she gestured him to follow.

Al followed her into the elevator and stood beside her not knowing what to say or do. "But, you're retired." He said as the elevator doors closed. "You're a civilian. Civilians cry." 

"Once a SEAL, always a SEAL," she stated, her 's' slurred. She leaned against the back of the cab. "I hate my life."

Al shook his head and sighed. "No, you don't, Jules. You don't hate your life. I think that you hate where you are in life. That's something totally different, hon. I've been there. Remember? I made it through. So can you. You have to find your notch... like I did," he said softly as he leaned back against the cab with her.

She laughed sickly. "Right now, my notch is getting as drunk as possible before passing out in my hotel room. Hell, it's better than being someone's ticket to re-election or being the ridicule of other SEALs because they can't accept you as an equal or being the poster girl for WOW and those other wacko groups that don't know what a real woman is even though they think they do but they don't..." Her run-on sentence faded more than stopped.

Al rubbed his neck as he listened to her. As the elevator door opened, Al watched her as she walked toward her room. He understood what she was saying. He had heard all the rumors about Weitzman using her as a ploy for re-election, how the other SEALs didn't believe her an equal... all of it. He sighed as he followed her toward the room. At least he wanted her safe in the room before he went back home.

She reached into her pocket in search of her key and pulled it out along with a tad bit of lint. She looked at the door with a frown, as if she had never seen a doorknob before.

"Jules, want me to get the door?" He asked softly seeing the look she was giving the door. He understood that one too.

"Sure. What the hell." She tossed the key into the air and to the side, not even paying attention to where it may go. 

Al quickly caught the keys and opened the door, letting her inside. "Alright... come on... " he said softly knowing that she was going to be one sick little girl in the morning. "Jules, I'm going to write down my phone number to the project right by your nightstand, along with a little note. Okay?"

She put her finger to her lips as if to tell him to be quiet. "Just be sure to write it in invisible ink," she whispered. "It's a secret." She started with a giggle towards the mini-bar.

"Oh boy." He said softly only to shake his head sadly. "Oh no..." He said as he saw her go toward the mini-bar. "Young lady, it's time you went to bed." He said as he twirled her toward the other direction where the bed was.

"No!" she told him flatly. "Come on, Al. Just one," she was pleading. 

"No." He said firmly. "You've had enough, dear. Go get your nightclothes on. You're going to bed." He went toward the nightstand to grab a pen and a piece of paper, only to head back toward the mini-bar knowing that if he didn't take a post, that she'd get one anyway.

She frowned when he beat her to it. "Al! You're no fair! It's not like I'm an alcoholic or anything! I just want a nightcap with you."

"No," he said again as he wrote down the number for the Project. "Go on. I mean it, Jules. Now." He waved a hand at her.

She pouted at his words before grudging over and changing into a t-shirt with "NAVY" emblazoned on it. She didn't even seem to care that Al was in the room as she stripped completely for the act.

Al wrote while she changed. He wanted to make sure that she understood in the morning about the phone call. He could tell from his periphery vision that she was making a show of the un-veiling and pushing all of his tendencies aside, turned his back completely to her.

She huffed as she slipped on the t-shirt. "You're starting to act like Dr. Beckett."

Al grinned at her words. "Yeah, well... it's not 'cuz I wanna." He said briefly. "Hurry up."

She strode over to him, smiling as she turned him around and kissed him firmly on the lips.

Al's eyes widened in shock. He pushed her away. "I'm a married man, Jules." Al looked down and quickly looked back up. "And finished getting dressed," he muttered as he looked in her eyes.

She sighed a bit. "Is that an order, Admiral?"

Al briskly walked over and grabbed the boxers from the top of the dresser. "Put them on." He said firmly as he looked into her ocean blue seductive eyes. If I wasn't married… he thought to himself.

She hesitated only a moment before taking them and obeying. She sighed a bit before going up to him and kissing his cheek. "I probably wouldn't have respected you in the morning anyway."

Al let out a slow breath. "Jules... get some sleep, will ya? You're going to need it." 

"But I don't want to sleep," she told him. "I want a drink."

"That's obvious by what you just tried to pull." Al went over to the bed and pulled down the covers for her. "Climb in." He said as he pointed to the bed. "Get in the bed, Jules," he commanded yet again.

She sauntered over and obeyed, looking at him with a gentle smile. "You really do love me," she said softly, her eyes filling with tears. "I mean... not like Beth... I mean... like..."

"Like a daughter." He supplied for her. "I love you like you’re my own daughter, Jules." 

The tears rolled down her face at his words. "I love you too, Al." She leaned up and kissed his cheek again before laying in the bed.

Al covered her up, and tucked the sheets around her, before leaning down and kissing her forehead. "Promise me that you won't get up and go to that mini-bar." He said as he looked her in the eyes.

She bit her lip tightly. "I suppose," she said quietly.

"Won't do." He said as he brushed at the tears on her cheek. "Promise." 

After a couple of sniffles, she nodded her head slightly. "Promise."

"Okay." Not knowing whether she would fall asleep immediately or not, he sat down in the chair beside the bed. "I'll leave when you're asleep. I just want to make sure that you're okay," he said softly as he got comfortable in the chair.

She looked at him with sad eyes. "Be back in the morning?"

"No, Jules. I have to be back at the Project. But... the note will explain hon. Go to sleep. Go ahead. I'm here."

She smiled softly at him as she closed her eyes. "You're too good to me, Alley cat."

Al smiled at her. He watched her as she fell asleep. Once he was certain she was truly asleep, he went back to the mini-bar and looked at the note he had written. It briefly told her the details of how to get to the Project and how he needed a bodyguard as per SECNAV's orders. At the bottom of the note, he added: "Jules, I don't want to be re-elected for any position. I don't want a recruitment poster. I think that I know women... but I'm always proved wrong anyway. What I do want is you. I need a personal guard (like I need another hole in the head) but if I have to have someone, I'd like that someone to be you." He put the pen down only to pick it up again. "You're another daughter that I never had. ~ Al." He then blew her a kiss and left.





The next morning, Julianna woke with a throbbing head and gasped at the memory of how she made moves on Al. She also remembered her promise, despite wanting to drown the headache with alcohol. Slowly, she headed for the mini-bar.

Nearly three hours later, there was a chime running through Al's office, begging for his attention.

Al scrubbed his head and looked up. "What is it, Ziggy?" He asked irritated that he had been interrupted from a light sleep.

"First, may I point out that 1538 is hardly a decent time to be sleeping. If you had remained in bed instead of pacing all night, you would not need to be sleeping at your desk. Furthermore...."

"Ziggy… what do you want?" he interrupted her onslaught..

"I do not want anything, Admiral," Ziggy said haughtily. "However, Captain Thomas is here to see you." 

"Oh... send her in..." Al said as he stood up, trying to straighten the wrinkles out of his shirt. 

"Very well," Ziggy told him.

Less than three minutes later, Julianna walked into the office, dressed in simple clothes that indicated that she didn't really think about color coordination when she dressed. She looked at Al with slightly blood-shot eyes. 

Al smiled at her as she walked in the room. She looked... well... for having drank so much as she had last night, she looked ... "You look good," he said finally.

"I look seriously hung over, which I am," she said frankly before exhaling loudly.

Al couldn't help by grin at her. "I'm sorry, Jules. I tried to stop you. But you wouldn't have it."

"No, I'm sorry," she told him. "I hit on you."

Al waved at her apology. "Nothing to be sorry about. Don't worry about it, Jules. I knew it was the alcohol."

She looked at him with question. "Al, are you sure you want to hire an alcoholic as your bodyguard?"

"You forget. I was an alcoholic." He said firmly. "And... yes, I want you as my bodyguard. As for the alcoholic part, we'll work through that part together, okay? I can help."

She took a deep breath and nodded slowly. She raised her head and looked at him very seriously. "I accept. Besides, I've heard horror stories about you. You need an assistant, Al. One man can't be Project Administrator, Co-Director, Head of Security, Observer, and general nuisance at the same time."

Al smiled. "I have been and I'm doing quite nicely, Jules. Bodyguard will suffice for now," he said reluctantly.

She shook her head firmly. "No deal. You lose some of your workload on me or you lose me completely. I may have been drunk but I saw you in that bar. You're wearing yourself out."

Al frowned not liking how this was working out. This isn't how it was supposed to work. She was the one giving the orders... how was it that it suddenly got flipped around? "Alright. Alright. Maybe... MAYBE you’re right." Actually, she hit it right on the money, but he wasn't about to admit it. "Assistant/Bodyguard. Fine. We'll work out the details. Deal?" he said as he lifted out his hand.

She nodded slightly, taking his hand. "Deal." She gave him a grin. "Besides, I've got to have a hobby of some kind, right?"

"Hobby?" Al asked confused.

"Yeah. Driving you nuts until you agree to let me do more around here," she told him. 

"Aye yi yi, what have I started?" Al asked as he hung his head.

"You sobered up a SEAL," she said plainly.

Al looked up at her quickly with a grin. "Yep," he chuckled as he headed back around his desk. "And a recruitment poster, and a woman of many talents... may I say of which has a wonderful body...." his sentence faded away as he tried to stay ahead of her and out of reach.

She gave him a wry grin. "Thanks," she told him warmly, knowing that would throw him off. "Now, if you will excuse me, I need to find an office to call home in this dump."

Thrown off guard from her words, Al walked toward the door to take her to an office. "I'll show you where there's an empty one. It's just right down the hall..." he began as he started past her.

Without warning, Julianna grabbed one of his arms and turned him around before quickly flipping him over, causing him to land flat on his back. She looked down at him with a mischievous smile. " Perfect... close enough to smell your socks."

Al looked up at her as he grunted from the pain. "Great. Just great."

"Just a reminder that I can kick your ass if I have to," Jules told him with a smile. "Even when I'm hung over and a little off balance because of it."

Al smacked his lips and heaved a sigh. "Oh boy." It was going to be a hell of a relationship. 



Blue streaks of light penetrated every molecule of Sam Beckett and he was pulled from one life and leaped into another. He never really felt anything until he was deep inside the next life he was entering. The leaping completely numbed his senses until the very last moment. Then the sensations of the new life started dully and then increased to crystal clarity. At first Sam's vision was dark and then a bright light was shining directly in his face. Putting his hand up to his eyes he saw a large classroom full of high school students. The light was from a viewgraph projector that showed some strange equations on the screen. In Sam's other hand was a set of index cards with lecture notes on them. Sam was so startled that he dropped them and they spread all over the floor. As the students started to giggle and then laugh, a pretty young co-ed with long straight blond hair in a tie-dyed outfit and love beads came up and helped him pick them up.

"Thank you," said Sam shyly.

"Any time, Mr. Hawthorne." She said smiling at him showing pearly white teeth. She brushed her hair back over her shoulder and headed back toward her seat. Once seated again, she gave him her full attention once more.

The notes were in complete disarray and Sam could not read the handwriting on them. Looking straight at the class Sam said with authority, "And that concludes my lecture for today."

A young man who appeared to be his teaching assistant came scrambling up to his side. "But Mr. Hawthorne, there's twenty minutes left in the class period."

Sam just looked up at the ceiling and said "OH BOY!"


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