Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy or Quantum Leap.
AN: I didn't plan this one. I wrote it as it came to me so forgive me if it jumps all over the place or doesn't make sense. If you see any large problems, let me know.
I hope I didn't mess up the timeline. It's been so long since I've seen Quantum Leap.
Buffy (Halloween) 1997
Buffy (Chosen) 2003
Project Quantum Leap (Research and Development) 1989
Quantum Leap (actual jump) 1995
The first thing Xander noticed was he could finally move his body. The second was that the knowledge of the solider was still there, fragmented and drifting through his mind but still there.
It was only as he was lying in his bed that night trying to clear his mind enough to drift off that he realized it - there was more knowledge there than he should have. He'd dressed as a ... a foot soldier was the most he could come up with. He hadn't thought of a rank when he'd put the costume together. The things floating in his head were so far beyond that of a basic soldier.
With some straining, he could remember being a pilot, things about Vietnam and POW - though thankfully even with straining, there was nothing specific. The highest rank he could pull from his weary mind was Rear Admiral. Xander wasn't sure if that was good or not but it sounded funny.
Two names swam from the depths of his mind, or rather that of the person who had possessed him tonight. They felt important and he was willing to bet everything he owned, which wasn't much, that the soldier's name was one of them. Al Calavicci or rather Albert Calavicci.
The other was one he didn't understand - Quantum Leap.
Maybe he could do some research on it tomorrow he thought sleepily.
The next day after classes, he claimed a computer in the library ignoring the questions from Giles about the night before.
His basic search got nothing on the project but it did come up with explanations on quantum. Most were way over his head and almost made him wish he had asked Willow for help but this felt like a secret that he shouldn't tell anyone - like something that he had to find on his own.
So, he went back to finding an understandable explanation for quantum. His last choice was to search an internet dictionary. With a laugh, he found it to be more helpful than his fifteen minutes spent going through search engines. It even had a quantum leap entry.
Finally, he understood the basics. He wasn't much for science but it sounded like and his thoughts felt right, taking something, breaking it down, and then sending it somewhere.
His next question was what could they possibly break down and send somewhere? And where would they send it?
That he decided, seeing the expressions on the girls' faces was better thought about later.
There never seemed to be time after that with one near death experience or almost apocalypse. He looked in what little free time he had but was never able to scrounge up the time to go in depth or even to ask Willow.
Then after the fluke things between him and his best friend weren't so best anymore and it was never comfortable being in the same room let alone asking for a favor. Even after they were friends, though never as best, Willow had gotten so involved in learning everything there was to know about magic that he didn't trust her hacking abilities with something that felt this important. There was also the feeling of secrecy so even if he had trusted her he may not have been able to form the words.
With Sunnydale sinking and the activation of the Slayers, a one-eyed carpenter just wasn't needed. Sure, his friends would miss him but he wanted some time to himself. He decided he'd finally finish his road trip and if he just happened to stop into New Mexico in the hopes of seeing Al, maybe even speak to him, well he couldn't have cross-country road trip without stopping there, could he?
Over the years, some of the memories had faded. For some reason, others had come forward to stay with him. He lost almost everything from Vietnam and the time as a POW except the bare basic of knowledge - that he'd been there, fought, and the vague notions of pain. Xander was thankful for this.
Now though, he knew about the Project, the location, and the basics of the theory behind it. He also knew Al helped his best friend, Sam Beckett, travel through time. He had gotten glimpses of the past through Al's holographic eyes.
There was also the question of how the Chaos spell had worked because some of the memories he had were from years after the spell. If the memories had followed the costume, he'd have only remembered Al's days as a soldier. He shouldn't know the things he knows now but they're there and in ways he's happy they are.
It was fascinating and terrifying. Sam was in the past changing things for the better and that was something Xander had always loved in comics but it was terrifying because just how much had Sam changed? Xander was sure the world had changed around him and he'd never even noticed. Was his life better before or was it better now or was it exactly the same? There were millions of questions and he'd probably never know the answers.
From his memories, the project had been going on now for a few years, six if his memories were correct, and Xander was curious.
Too curious for his own good.
He really had been too curious for his own good. He'd taken a winding path but the destination had always been New Mexico. He'd arrived, booked a hotel room and set out to explore. He had vague memories of this town and he wanted to see how well they matched up.
After a full day of exploring, he'd headed to a pub for a drink before bed. He'd been off his medication for a few months now and while the pain wasn't gut wrenching anymore it was still that of a painful migraine and Tylenol just didn't do more than dull the pain. It was never enough to sleep so when it was particularly bad he'd taken to having a glass of whatever was on tap before bed.
So, that was how he found himself in the local pub nursing the mug of beer in front of him at 9 o'clock at night. He scanned the bar finding a group of older men around a table in back playing poker, a group of young college aged men having a night out on the town, a few stragglers nursing their own bottles, even the standard sob story drunk at the bar. Xander's eyes skipped over him at first, dismissing him as one of the stragglers before they flicked back.
It was him. It was really him ... and he looked tired.
Xander couldn't resist. He grabbed his mug and made his way over, taking the seat across from Al. "Rough day?"
The silence dragged on so long after the question Xander thought he might not answer. So when we picked up his drink to leave the sound of a voice coming from across him startled him.
"Yeah kid. Every day is pretty rough but today was one of the worst."
"It helps to talk about it and I've been told I'm a pretty good listener." Xander gave a self-deprecating grin and shrug.
"I've got a friend who's a bit ... lost. He does good things but he's in danger and there's no way to get him home." Al said delicately, sidestepping any classified information.
Ah, so this was about Sam but there was something Xander knew about the situation that Al didn't yet. *Now, how do I put it into words without sounding too knowledgeable?*
"Did ya ever think maybe he doesn't want to come home?"
Al frowned, expression mutinous. "Well, of course he does!"
Xander gave a look of sympathy. He knew the feeling from both sides. "Reminds me of a man who helped his friends for years and when he wanted some time to himself - to do some good for the world in his own way, they objected. He wasn't the best a defending himself, ya see. He tended to get himself into life threatening situations and had to be rescued - out in the world on his own there would be no one to watch over him. His friends didn't trust him to be able to protect himself and still do good things. They didn't trust his choice." Xander's hand rubbed along the eye patch. "They call everyday and ask him to come home but there's still something inside urging him that his place isn't there - it's out there in the world. It's ... here." Xander's eyes locked with Al's across the table. "Maybe your friend doesn't even realize it yet but if he's doing so much good maybe his place isn't here anymore. It's up to you to be a good friend and help him. You can't protect him from himself but you can be there the times it blows up in his face - patch him up, let him cry on your should if need be, and then you have to let him go ... let him be the man he needs to be."
Al was shaking his head but Xander knew him, knew how his mind worked - better than he did his own some days. Al was on the road to understanding and he'd take that understanding to Sam.
Xander knew Sam as well and he knew that Sam was a good man.
Sam may never make it home, unconsciously keeping himself jumping to where he was needed until the world ended and time ripped itself to shreds but he'd have Al to watch his back for as long as Al could.
Maybe it was time for Xander to compromise. He wasn't ready to settle down, to be dependable Xander who couldn't protect himself and was always pushed to the side because of it but he realized that he wanted what Al and Sam had. He wanted someone who could let him be himself but was still always there to watch his back when trouble inevitably found him.
With this thought he moved out of the pub after saying his goodbyes and dropping his mug off at the bar, pulling his phone from his pocket.
"Willow? No, no, I'm in New Mexico and I'm not ready to come home yet but I'm ready for some backup. Could you send ...?"
Xander and Al may or may not meet again just as I may or may not write anymore for this. For now, I kinda like the ending. I'd love to know who you think Xander sends for. I have someone in mind but I'd like to see if anyone thinks the same way. XD