Sam was writing on a chalkboard. He took in his surroundings. First, the chalkboard itself, which was covered with equations. He turned his head to the left and saw the large, institutional windows. He continued until he was looking directly behind him. Sitting there, staring at him, were about half a dozen students, all waiting for him to do something, pens poised over notebooks.
"Oh, boy," Sam muttered. He was in the middle of teaching a class? He didn't even know the subject.
A man sitting about halfway back caught Sam's eye. He was older than the other students, probably in his mid to late thirties. He was also wearing a suit, which stood out among the other students who were dressed more casually.
He raised his chin to Sam, a gesture which meant, "You know who I am and what I'm doing here." Unfortunately, he had no idea the answer to either of those questions. He didn't even know if the man was friend or foe. Sam nodded back anyway. Might as well acknowledge him.
Then he remembered he was still in the middle of a lecture. Sam turned quickly back to the chalkboard. He perused the equations. He knew this. It was an advanced math proof. He was fairly sure he had even taught this at one point. This was definitely a high level math class, quite possibly even at a post-graduate level.
A loud bell shattered the silence and Sam jumped at the noise. The students began mercifully putting away their things. "We'll, um, continue this next time," Sam stammered, feeling obligated to say something.
The students filed out, eyeing him suspiciously. Sam put the chalk down and began stuffing papers in a nearby satchel he presumed to be his own.
"You okay, Charlie?" The man in the suit was coming towards him. There was no animosity in his demeanor. Perhaps they were friends. But, more importantly, Sam had learned that his name was Charlie. He was off to a good start. "You kind of drifted off there at the end. Having a brilliant thought?" The last sentence sounded like he was teasing, and Sam just grinned and shrugged in response.
The man snatched something from his hip, flipped it open, and held it to his ear. It was a phone, but Sam didn't remember seeing one that small before. "Eppes!" he barked.
Sam continued packing his bag. He couldn't be sure all of these papers were his, but someone would come looking for them if they weren't. It kept him busy, anyway. He picked up a notebook open to a page of familiar equations. Sam checked and, sure enough, they matched the ones on the board. These were Charlie's lecture notes. Well, this would have come in handy about 5 minutes ago. "Here's hoping the notes for the whole week are in here," he thought, glumly.
Eppes pulled the phone away from his face and covered the mouthpiece. "I'm going to take this outside," he said to Sam. "I'll meet you in your office."
Sam nodded, even though he didn't know where his office was. Eppes rushed out of the room.
Sam zipped the satchel, shouldered it, and exited out to the hallway. He saw exactly what he needed and he made a beeline for it.
"Charlie?" a female voice said.
Sam turned to see a pretty, dark-haired woman fall into step with him. She looked to be of Indian descent but she had a decidedly American accent. "Didn't you see us?" she asked.
"Us?" Sam said.
"Yeah. Larry and I." She indicated the other side of Sam and he noticed, for the first time, an older, smaller man there.
"Oh, no," Sam said with a strained smile. "I didn't. Distracted, I guess."
"Not so distracted that you forgot my equations, I hope" Larry said, sounding alarmed. He was looking eagerly at the satchel. Sam opened it wide enough for him to see in. "Here we go!" Larry said, plucking out a folder labeled L. Fleinhardt.
Larry Fleinhardt. When Sam had started leaping, he had lost large portions of his memory. The details of his own life were sketchy. But somewhere, in the swiss cheese that was his brain, he knew that name. Well, he had worked with a lot of people over the years. the must have been a Fleinhardt somewhere along the line.
"Where are you going?" the woman asked Sam. Fleinhardt was pouring over the contents of the folder, obviously quite happy with what he saw.
Sam pointed. "Men's room. Then I have to meet Eppes in my office."
She looked stunned. Even Larry looked up from his equations Sam was aware that he had just said something very, very wrong. "What?" she asked. Larry and her exchanged glances. "Since when you do call Don, Eppes?"
Sam shifted uncomfortably. "Umm, I have to go," he said quickly and ducked into the bathroom.
That hadn't exactly gone well. But there were more important matters at hand. Sam walked over to the mirror. He saw a man. Late twenties to early thirties. His most striking feature was a mane of dark, curly hair. He was somewhat shorter than Sam, dressed in casual attire that was not much different from what the students wore. A large nose, dark eyes. Not bad looking.
Sam checked his hip pocket and found a wallet. Suspiciously absent was a driver's license, although he did find a driving permit. Charlie Eppes. No wonder the girl had acted to strangely when he called the other man, Don, Eppes. They shared a last name. Brothers, probably.
He quickly scanned the permit and stopped dead on the issue date. He stared at the numbers for a long time, willing them to change, but they refused. April 15, 2006. It made no sense. He had started leaping in 1995. How could a driver's permit be issued in the future? He looked at Charlie's birth date. It was listed as 1975, which would make him 31 in 2006, but still. And that niggling feeling that he knew the name Larry Fleinhardt was now jumping up and down screaming. Fleinhardt and Eppes. They were linked in his mind like Abbot and Costello, Arm and Hammer. A matched set. Had he worked with them on Quantum Leap?
And then the answer came crashing down. He remembered. It was such a strange and glorious feeling to once more have a past. Larry had consulted on the Quantum Leap project, under the guise of it being a cosmology experiment, since he was known in the physics community as a top string guy. And then the math had gotten complex and it became apparent that it was going way over everyone's head. So Fleinhardt had called in some whiz kid genius that he had in class. This was, what? 1994? That sounded right. And the kid had come through, not just producing mathematical theories that blew everyone away, but seeing right through their cosmology ploy and figuring out they were talking time travel. Whether the kid had ever told Fleinhardt what they were up to, Sam had no idea.
"Charlie Eppes," Sam thought, staring into the mirror. Profound genius. This was going to be interesting. He ran his fingers through Charlie's hair.
Through the use of a posted directory, Sam managed to find his office. Not surprisingly, it was in the math department. It was a large, cluttered space filled with all sorts of trinkets to endlessly fascinate Charlie's ever-hungry mind.
If you ever get bored, Sam thought, you should try leaping.
Don was standing there munching on candy out of a large bowl on Charlie's desk. Although taller, older, and more muscular than Charlie, Sam could see that the two must be brothers. The family resemblance was striking.
The two men greeted each other. Sam moved behind his desk and began to straighten papers. He didn't think this desk had been cleaned off in weeks. The display on Charlie's cell phone had revealed the date to be September 11. Term must have started fairly recently so all this clutter had accumulated in a very short period of time. Which led Sam to one conclusion. Charlie was a slob.
"I've got a case for you," Don said. He dusted the candy from his hands and gave Sam a thick file with FBI printed on it in at least five places. Sam noted that he had inhaled half the bowl of chocolates.
Sam took the file. Why was a college professor reviewing an FBI case file? Sam opened it and flipped through the pages. His jaw dropped open. This wasn't just any case, this was an open investigation of a serial killer. Worse yet, they had no leads at all. Words kept leaping off the page at him like "torture" and "rape" and "abuse of a corpse". That last one made Sam close the file. He didn't want to see any more.
"We need to find that guy," Don said. Sam wasn't sure if he should hand back the folder. He laid it on the desk instead.
"What do you want me to do?" Sam asked.
Don waived his hand at the file. "You know. We need an equation."
"What sort of equation?"
Don just shrugged. "That's kind of your department, buddy. You know, a find-the-bad-guy equation."
Sam looked down at the folder. A find-the-bad-guy equation? Was he serious? Well, this should be easy. All he had to do was come up with a magical equation that somehow told the FBI who a horrible serial killer was. Never mind that he was fairly sure he didn't have a degree in math, or that Charlie was obviously smarter than him. Sure, no problem. He'd leap out of here lickity-split. Piece of cake. Maybe he could go ahead and cure cancer, too. Just in his spare time, of course.
"I'll, um, I'll take a look," Sam managed.
"Thanks, buddy," Don said, clapping him on the shoulder. "Need a ride home?"
"Sure," Sam agreed eagerly. He didn't know where home was, anyway. And if he left now he wouldn't have to worry about things like teaching more classes. Which freed him up to worry about much bigger things, like how he was going to come up with a find-the-bad-guy equation when he barely remembered his own name.
He shoved the file in his satchel and followed Don out to a large, black SUV in the parking lot. Don opened the back hatch and looked at Sam expectantly. "Didn't you ride your bike today?"
"Oh, right," Sam said, rubbing the back of his neck. He glanced over at the bike rack. It had at least 10 bikes attached to it, all of them chained with combination locks. Sam decided just to skip it. Charlie could come get his bike after he leaped out. "No," he said. "No bike today."