Dr. Sam Beckett shook his head to clear the last of the fog from his vision. The first thing he saw was toes, his toes, in comfortable tennis shoes, then he noticed the comfortable jeans. There were calm voices murmuring in the background. He held his breath for a second and continued to study his toes while using his peripheral vision to see if anyone was addressing him. He issued a slight sigh when all he saw were T-shirt clad backs to him, the wearers all huddled over something he couldn't see on a low table.

Sam continued his self-examination and discovered he was leaning casually against a wall with his arms crossed against his chest. Slowly, he looked around and took in the surroundings. There was a dirty wood floor, a cheesy looking bed and a dilapidated table that the other occupants were crowded around, illuminated by a thrift shop lamp. It was impossible to determine the era by this room; everything appeared to be used, hand me downs. Only his shoes gave a hint of the time because they were a very complicated style of Nike shoe. Sam was impressed and confused at the same time by an expensive shoe owner being in such a tacky room.

He stood up straighter, making the decision to move closer to the crowd and listen in when one of the men stood up and faced him. It was a younger man, in his mid to late 20's, trim and athletic. He was holding a telephone receiver to his ear, his hand over the mouthpiece blocking the next question from the person at the other end. He looked right at Sam with a perplexed expression.

"He wants a helicopter, twenty-five thousand dollars cash in unmarked bills and a pizza! What do I do?" The young man appeared to be as stumped as the four other clones, all of which were staring at Sam and obviously expecting an answer.

Caught off guard and completely unprepared, Dr. Sam Beckett, time traveler, froze, then replied softly, "Oh, boy!"


By AJ Squaredaway


I really have no idea exactly how long I've been Quantum Leaping. If I sat down and tried to think it out, I'd probably not be able to come up with a number. I could, however, come up with a list of skills I have picked up. One of them being 'deflecting attention', which gives me the precious time I need to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing. It works most of the time. Sometimes it comes right back at me.

The men were obviously expecting an answer, so Sam gave them one. "Ask what he wants on it."

There were confused looks exchanged among them, as well as shrugged shoulders.

"On the pizza. What does he want on the pizza?" Sam clarified verbally as he scrambled mentally to come up with something else to say. He heard the man with the phone ask repeat the question into the receiver.

"He's laughing, sir," the young man reported, turning to face Sam again. The team was now totally stumped. "And he's asking for you." He held out the receiver, frowning.

Sam hesitated, then stepped forward and accepted the phone. "Hello?" He said tentatively. The laughter on the other end died down only slightly.

"OK! That's it, Billy! I think we've tortured them enough!" Sam heard more chuckling then the phone went dead.

A couple of the half dozen young men checked their watches then looked expectantly at Sam.

A training scenario of some sort? Sam wasn't sure what he was supposed to do, and got the feeling he was in charge here. He was just at the point of dismissing all of them when a powerfully built man burst into the room, a smile on his rugged face. "OK, troops! Short lunch break then back here in an hour. Field PT is next, so wear your fatigues. We'll be doing some recon. Get outta here."

The group talked amongst themselves and started to file out of the room, discussing where the closest lunch could be had. One man broke off and approached Sam.

"Sergeant, I'd like to thank you for this opportunity. They don't come around too often," and he stuck his hand out.

Sam shook his hand and murmured a response, as a thought ran through his head. 'Sergeant? In what army?' The big man was gathering up the radio equipment, and tossed two portable radios to Sam.

"Here. I don't know where the box went. Whatcha want for lunch?" Arms loaded, the man followed the group out the door. Sam was the last one to leave, and gave the room a last, puzzled look as he closed the wobbly door. He followed the big guy down a narrow, dark set of wooden stairs that opened out into a very short street. The others piled into two separate cars and zoomed off, and Sam noticed that the paved road turned to dirt just a few buildings away. In fact, the whole 'town' stopped just a few buildings away.

Sam stopped and took in the whole scene. It was a fake town! Something you'd see on a Hollywood back lot, except this little grouping was set in a clearing between two long hills that were covered with trees. There was nothing else around.

"Hey! Bill!" The large man called. Sam, still a bit stunned, looked up. "You ridin' with me? No sense in taking two cars."

"Uh, yeah, OK," Sam replied.

Sam's partner opened the trunk of a plain, brown sedan parked close to the building they had just exited, and tossed in the radios. Following suit, Sam walked over and put the radios he was holding in the same trunk while the man got in the driver's seat. The contents of the trunk were fascinating; there were metal ammo boxes galore and canvas bags with batons and handcuffs spilling out. There was one long, metal box that Sam suspected must hold a rifle of some sort, figuring that all this stuff had to do with law enforcement in some way. Or so he hoped. As he closed the trunk, the car started up. Sam had to trot to the passenger door or be left behind.

He was barely seated when the car took off. The motion of it shooting forward made the door close and Sam scrambled to hook the seat belt. They left the 'town' in a cloud of dust.

The big guy whistled tunelessly as Sam inspected the car. There was a police radio bolted low on the dashboard, and a laptop computer on the floor, along with several empty fast food restaurant cups. The driver was fast, but good and Sam relaxed a bit as he smoothly took the curves. Soon the dirt road joined with a paved one, then a security gate. The others had left it open for them, and after they passed through the driver got out to shut and lock the gate. Sam took the opportunity to move the rearview mirror over so he could see what he looked like this leap.

The eyes of a man of Asian descent looked back at him. His hair was military short, black and glossy. His skin was a medium tone, and Sam guessed Japanese. He was a good-looking man who kept himself in shape. The mirror was re-adjusted before the driver returned, and Sam had enough time to quickly slip the wallet from his back pocket. It was black and flat, and when he opened it up Sam saw an FBI shield on one side and a photo ID on the other for William Takeshta. Sergeant William Takeshta. Sam slipped the wallet back in his pocket as the driver jumped in.

The car shot forward once again.

"So, how about sub sandwiches? It's the closest. And we do want to get back in time to set up some booby traps!" He obviously enjoyed his work.

"Uh, sure," Sam responded.

"Hey, I forgot to congratulate you for making the Lieutenant's list again. I hear you're number one. That right?"

"I think so, " Sam guessed, wishing his holographic Observer would arrive soon to fill in these details.

"That's great! Are you gonna take the bars this time? You can't keep refusing promotions and get anywhere in this Department. How may times have you turned it down? Twice?" The man laughed out loud, making Sam smile. "I can't even get on the damn list and you're turning them down! You must have huevos the size of coconuts, bro!" He laughed again. "Hey! You must know that written test pretty good by now."

Sam took that as a rhetorical question and just smiled as the man rambled on, talking and whistling. Apparently Bill Takeshta wasn't known as a conversationalist, or this guy just liked to talk.

Looking around, Sam saw a notebook on the back seat and reached back for it. "Elements of Hostage Negotiation" was printed on the front cover. He only had time to leaf through a few chapters before his partner spoke again.

"Hey, the class schedules are on the floor back there. We gotta make sure they get passed out when we get back. Grab, 'em will ya? If they're up here, I'll see 'em. Give 'em a look over, too, see if there are any typos. Can't trust Vicky sometimes."

Sam exchanged the notebook for the fat envelope he saw on the floor. He slipped out the papers, stapled together in pairs. On the top was "Hostage Negotiation Team Training" just below the Federal Bureau of Investigations letterhead. Looking for a date, Sam was disappointed to see only "February 5 - 9" with no year. He quickly glanced over the program, not noting any typos, and slipped them back into the envelope. At least he knew what he was in for in next few days.

For some reason that didn't make him feel better. He glanced at his watch as they pulled into a small strip mall, the first civilization since they had left the training ground. It had been almost an hour and no sign of Al. The car bounced to a stop in front of a small sandwich shop. The others were already there milling around inside, and the driver hopped out and cheerfully joined them. Sam sighed and reached for the door handle. It was going to be a long afternoon.

Project Quantum Leap

Stallion's Gate, New Mexico

March 15, 2000

"He's leaped, Dr. Elesee." The wild-haired programmer found it hard not to fidget, and rubbed his hands together while he shifted his feet. He knew what had to be done, but wasn't exactly sure who had the authority to approve the action. In a groundbreaking project like this, there were always times when rules were made on the fly during seat-of-your-pants actions. This was one of those times.

"This had to happen sooner or later," Donna Elesee-Beckett mused. "The Admiral can't be expected to be chained here. It's a good thing we kept Sammy Jo available. We have to include this scenario in the procedures manual."

Gooshie raised his eyebrows. "We have a procedure manual?"

Donna couldn't help but grin. "Yeah. It's up here," and she tapped her temple. "Writing it down is another item on my things-to-do list. A physicists' work is never done," she sighed. "Ziggy?"

"Yesssssss?" the feminine parallel hybrid computer drawled.

Although she was a machine, Donna thought she noticed a tone of distraction in Ziggy's response, and her brow wrinkled for an instant in a frown. She also knew the computer tended towards emotional fits and almost human concerns based on whatever she was inputting at the moment, and made a mental note to ask her about it later. God knows what she was scanning at this moment. "Ziggy, please call Dr. Fuller to the Waiting Room for briefing."

There was a slight hesitation. "All right, Dr. Elesee. And may I ask where you will be?"

That made Gooshie and Donna glance up at the glittering orb suspended over their heads, then back to each other. Gooshie shook his head and shrugged, indicating he had no idea what was going on in Ziggy's 'mind'. She usually dismissed Project staff as necessary pests, and didn't inquire about their plans. She could talk to them anywhere in the catacombs of the Project.

"I'll be in the Project, Ziggy. I'm not going outside, so you can find me at any time. Is that what you wanted to know?"

Again, a hesitation. "OK. And I've notified Dr. Fuller."

"Ziggy?" Donna asked. "Is something wrong?"

The artificial intelligence sniffed. "That is a subjective question, Dr. Elesee. Bosnia is wrong. Bigotry is wrong. Those shoes with that skirt is wrong."

Donna couldn't help but glance at her feet as Gooshie stifled a laugh, then clamped her lips shut as she looked at the ceiling. "What do you know about fashion?" She snapped, putting her hand up in a stop motion. "No, don't tell me. Sorry I asked. Is Dr. Beeks with the Visitor?"

"Yes. And everything is fine in the Waiting Room."

Donna Elesee wasn't a mother, but she recognized the awkward way a child would try to direct someone away from something, and Ziggy, being akin to a stepchild, was doing just that. She was immediately suspicious. "That's good, because that's just where I'm headed."

She spun on her heel and headed to the door. Ziggy was oddly silent.

The Marriott Suites

Washington D.C.

March 15, 2000

Admiral Albert Calavicci sighed as he flipped the suitcase shut, zipped it, and locked it with a chuckle. 'If anyone really wanted in this thing, that piss-ant lock wouldn't stop 'em', he thought. It gave his wife peace of mind, though, so he was happy to oblige. Her makeup was safe from thievery for the time being.

"Hey!" he called out cheerily. "You ready?"

"Yeah, yeah, cool your jets," came the lilting reply from the bathroom. Beth Calavicci stepped out, tugging at a stubborn earring and smiling.

Al couldn't help but marvel at her. Even after four children she was beautiful as when he first met her. They rarely had time together apart from Project Quantum Leap, and she was the reason these budgeting junkets were even bearable. He stepped up and circled his arms around her waist and drew her close.

She wrapped her arms around his neck. "Did you call the bellman?" She asked coyly.

"Why? Aren't I enough?" He teased, nibbling at her pearl-dressed neck. His hands drifted down to her rump.

She giggled softly in his ear. "Back for more, sailor?"

His voice was muffled. "I'll take as much as I can get!"

She rubbed his back and tossed her head back. He was kissing her adam's apple when there was a knock at the door.

"Bellman!" a voice chirped from the hall.

Al hesitated for a second. "I didn't hear that."

Beth laughed and gently pushed him back. "Sorry. Reality rears its ugly head, dear."

He tugged at his beltline. "Ahem," he coughed. "I'll let the interloper in."

As Beth smoothed her blouse, Al opened the door and allowed the bellman in, pointing out the suitcases on the bed. The worker loaded them onto the brass cart and Al slipped him a tip.

"And hail a cab for us, will you?"

"Yes, sir!" the man replied. "Are you all checked out?"

Al gave Beth a sly smile, "Unfortunately, yes."

The bellman nodded a quick acknowledgment and disappeared down the hall. Beth collected her purse and coat, and helped her husband on with his dress blue jacket. She retrieved the white cover from the closet, handed it to him, and he tucked it under his arm. He offered the other arm to her, and she took it with a smile. As they left the hotel room, Beth snatched Al's briefcase from a chair by the door. The door clicked shut on their heels.

Waiting for an elevator, Beth brushed some lint from Al's jacket. "Ah, a man in uniform," she sighed. It was their private joke. "Always good to turn the ladies' heads."

He smiled at her, and took her hand. His military bearing was second nature, and he refrained from any physical demonstrations of affections (PDA's, he called them) while in public. Beth knew this and endlessly tortured him with her teasing. She got a kick out of watching him squirm.

He grinned. "I only care about one head," he said quietly.

Beth's face lit up like a summer sunrise. "You don't say?" Her hand dropped low, hovering in the area of his crotch. "And what, exactly, do you mean by that, hmmmm?"

Al was saved by the ding of and arriving elevator. The occupants behind the parting doors saw a dignified couple step into the car, no idea of what was going through the heads of the uniformed Admiral and his attractive wife.

Al cleared his throat as the doors closed. Beth bit her lips to keep from laughing. He spoke while studying the lighted, descending numbers over the doorway. "So you'll be picking up that coat for Liz while I'm at Weitzman's office, right?"

"Right. Do you think there'll be a problem with the flight?"

"Nah," he finally dared to look at her and grinned. "I checked with my Pentagon contacts, and the jet is just sitting there, ready to go. I'm glad we got all this budgeting ca-ca straightened out early. Can't wait to get back to someplace warm," he covered his mouth with his hand so only Beth could hear him, "so I can rip your clothes off and run amok."

Beth feigned a coughing fit to cover her laughter as her husband looked innocently up at the indicator just reaching 'L'.