BOTHERED AND BEWILDERED
by Lorraine Anderson
Sam's eyes were closed, and he was standing. There was a pressure on his lips, and the scent of jasmine perfume filled his nose. His arms were around the lower back of a woman.
He sighed mentally, thankful she was clothed. The few times that he Leapt into a person in the middle of... the act... well, he could have done without the embarrassment.
He opened his eyes a slit. She was blond with shoulder length hair, but he couldn't see much more without pulling back. They were standing in the middle of a living room that looked, more or less, trapped in the late Seventies... or maybe 1980, but he knew enough to withhold judgement until he saw a newspaper or a calendar.
She hummed in pleasure, then opened her eyes and jumped back. "Who are you?" she demanded, narrowing her eyes. "And where is my husband?"
With a mental "oh, boy", he tried to bluff her out. "Dear, what are you talking about?"
She sighed in exasperation. "Don't you think I can see through these little tricks?"
"What... little tricks?" His mind whirled, and he watched the beautiful blond closely. There must be something wrong with her, probably mentally, or else she wouldn't have been able to see him. Perhaps he was here to save her husband's life. He watched her hands closely, hoping that she wouldn't pull out a knife or a gun.
"I haven't lost my powers yet. You don't, associating with mortals, you know." She smiled grimly.
"I... do? I mean, I do know?" Mortals? Did she think she was immortal? She was more ill than he thought. Perhaps he was here to take her to a psychologist. He moved toward her, palms up. "Now, dear, everything's all right."
"Oh, bother." She stared at him, twitched her nose... ... and suddenly he couldn't move. He stood, frozen, balanced on one foot, and stared at her in amazement. Did she do that?
"Mother!" she said, staring up at the ceiling impatiently. "Mother, this is not funny. You get down here right now." She waited a second. Sam strained to hear someone coming down the stairs. "Mother!"
A red-haired woman who looked in her late fifties suddenly appeared before him. She was in a ski outfit, with snow covering her hair. His eyes widened. Was the blond another Leaper, and this was this her observer? He mentally shook his head, discarding that theory. He never saw Alia's Observer. She couldn't be a Leaper. Could she? And, if she was, was she evil or good?
"Samantha, dear," she said impatiently. "I was just skiing down Mount Everest with Jean Claude Killey. What is it?"
"What did you do with Darrin?" The blond pointed at Sam.
"I didn't do anything with..." The mother turned and looked at Sam. "Well, well, well! Who's this? Somewhat of an improvement over Durwood, I see." She circled him, inspecting him up and down, paying particular attention to his backside. Sam blushed. "Yes, a much greater improvement. Samantha, dear, why didn't you tell me you had gotten rid of Darwin?" The lady sounded delighted.
Samantha closed her eyes. "Mother, I did not get rid of Darwin... Darrin. This warlock suddenly appeared."
Sam's eyes widened, and his mouth would have opened if it could have. Warlocks? Did that mean that these were... But witches were fictional. A memory surfaced. Troian. Her housekeeper seemed to be a ghost. Was she, and were these? No. Couldn't be. There had to be another explanation. The older woman stared at him, then turned to her daughter. "Samantha, look at him closely," the older woman said impatiently. "Does he look like a warlock?"
Samantha narrowed her eyes and looked at him. "No," she admitted reluctantly. "He's a mortal. But if you didn't bring him here, then who did?"
The older woman waved a hand toward herself. Abruptly, she was dressed in long, pink, flowing dress. Sam gulped, and looked at her, fascinated, forgetting to be worried. Under what laws of physics do these people operate? He would love to sit down and ask them a few things. He tried to open his mouth, realized that he couldn't, then was worried again.
"Samantha, you could call all day until you had a living room full of our relatives." She stared at him. "But I'm intrigued. Why not ask him yourself?"
Samantha wiggled her nose. Sam suddenly found himself sitting on the sofa, unable to move from the neck down. He looked up at the blond. "How did you do that?" He grimaced. "Sorry. I don't mean to make demands. I think... that you would not be pleased if I do."
Samantha smiled slowly. "Well, he does have some manners, at least. That rules out anybody Serena and Uncle Arthur would be associated with." Her smile faded. "Who are you?"
He sighed, hoping this would not jeopardize his leaping onwards. "My name is Doctor Samuel Beckett." He stopped, reluctant to go further.
"A Doctor! Well, that's an improvement over Darwood!" Samantha glared at her mother. Her mother shrugged and glared back, but kept quiet.
Samantha looked impatient. "Why are you here? Who sent you? Where did you come from? And where is my husband?"
He decided not to keep anything back. "The first two questions are a bit difficult, and you probably won't believe me."
"I'm a time traveller from... um... I think it's still 1999 back home." The two ladies stared at each other, looking astonished. Sam almost felt pleased at scoring one on them.
"Apparently, something is going to go wrong here, and I was sent... by something, possibly God... to help to change it to right."
Sam heard the Imaging Door open. Al popped out, grinning from ear to ear. "Sam, you won't believe what the guy back in the Waiting Room is saying! He thinks we're all witches! He says he's married to a witch." He paused dramatically. "Must be one of my ex-wives..."
He suddenly noticed the two women staring at him. "Uh-oh." He frantically punched the hand link, and the Imaging Chamber door reopened. "Sam, I'm outta here."
"Al, wait!" Sam shouted.
Al paused in the doorway.
"Get back in here. Darrin's more right then you think." He looked at the two ladies. "And if I'm right, you two can't touch him."
The mother waved her hand at Al. He moved back in the room and blinked. "What was that all about?" He looked closely at Sam. "Why aren't you moving?"
The mother looked vexed at Al. "Samantha, you try."
Samantha wiggled her nose.
Al stared at her. "Is this some sort of club greeting? Sam, you didn't answer my question."
"I can't do anything either," Samantha said, puzzled. She reached out to touch him, and her hand went through his arm.
"I really wish you wouldn't do that," Al spouted.
Sam smiled. "Al is not really there. He's a hologram, and he's in 1999."
"Sam," Al protested. "You told!"
"Al, they can see me, they can see you..." He tried to move and had to desist, panting. "...and they seem to have me permanently welded to this couch." He grinned. "Al, they are witches."
"Sam. There are no such thing as witches. That's a fable."
"Just like there's no such things as ghosts? Remember Troian? And who was the one who kept telling me about vampires?"
"Mmmm. Well," he looked at the two. "If you hurt him, I will come after you, hologram or not."
"Empty threats," the mother sniffed. Al glared at her. "Is my husband all right?" Samantha asked, looking anxious.
"Your husband...? Oh, Darrin. Oh, yeah, he's fine. He's back in the Waiting Room. A little confused, but remarkably more composed than almost anyone else we've had there."
"Can you show me?"
Sam nodded. "Can't hurt. May help."
Al punched a few buttons on the hand link, then paused. "I have to warn you... he'll probably look like Sam here."
Sam grinned. "To them? I doubt it."
Al shrugged and entered the final code and pointed the handlink toward the television. Sam felt a shock of recognition. He had forgotten that what he saw would be his own body image. It was like watching a film of himself. Distracted, he wondered what Darrin really looked like.
The Leapee looked resigned at Verbena Beaks, the project psychologist. "If you're trying to get me to divorce Samantha, I'm not going to do it. I've told you all that once, and I'll keep telling you that."
Verbena looked perplexed. "Why do you feel that we're trying to get you to divorce your wife? Do you wish to divorce your wife?"
"No, of course not," Darrin said, disgusted. "I love Sam. I keep telling you that."
"And who did you say we were?"
"Well, you're obviously a witch." He looked down at the table, which reflected Sam Beckett's image up at him. "Otherwise, why would I look like this?"
"If she is a witch, I never met her before," the mother said.
"Can't you tell?" Al said snidely.
She pursed her lips. "Not long distance like that."
"I am not a witch," Verbena smiled. "I've been called a lot of things, but never a witch."
Darrin looked her up and down. She was dressed in black stirrup slacks and a silver top that flared out below her hips. "You certainly dress like one. Bizarre. Just like that warlock that was in here before."
"I was stylishly dressed," Al said. Sam raised an eyebrow at him.
"Al," Sam interrupted. "I think you should bring Mr..." He stopped short and looked at Samantha when he realized he didn't know a last name.
"Stevens," she provided. "And this is my mother, Endora."
"You're his mother-in-law?" Al said, with a strange look on his face.
"...Mr. Stevens into the Imaging Chamber. I think we had all better figure out why I'm here, since it seems that these two don't need any help. Oh," he nodded at Al. "This is Al Calavicci, my Observer... my liaison to my own time." Samantha wriggled her nose. Sam moved his arms up and down. He sighed. "Thank you for trusting me."
"Are you sure that's wise, Sam?" Al said slowly. "The shock of seeing his image on someone else..." He looked at Endora. "Although, I suspect he's seen some odd things in his day, if half of what he told me is true."
"Watch it," Endora said sharply. "I have a long memory, and witches have long lives."
Al glared at her. "I didn't mean it the way it sounded, and you know it."
She glared back. "I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about." They stood nose to nose, glaring at each other.
"Al," Sam said sharply. "Break it off."
"She started it."
Sam rolled his eyes. "I don't care..."
"Mom," a female voice came from upstairs. "Adam's been in my stuff again."
"Uh-oh," Samantha said. She muttered something under her breath and waved her hands at Sam.
Sam looked at her. Suddenly, he felt... different. Shorter. Stockier. He pulled out a lock of hair. It was dark. He raised his eyebrows. He had an eerie feeling that he knew what she did, but not why... and especially not how!
A strangled noise came from Al. "Sam... you... they..."
"Out of here, Al," Sam hissed. Even his voice sounded different.
"Too late," Endora said lowly. "Tabitha, dear!" she said gaily. "Pop down here and see your Grandmama!"
A blond teenager looked over the top of the stairs. "Oh, hi, Grandma Endora," she said without enthusiasm. "You brought another geek."
"Tabitha," Samantha said sternly. "That is no way to talk to a friend of your Grandmama's."
Al looked momentarily like he was going to choke. "These clothes are very fashionable where I came from."
"Pluto?" Tabitha said.
"Tabitha," Samantha said. "Go back to your room."
The girl looked at Sam. "Dad...?"
"You heard your mother," Sam said. His voice definitely was different... and Sam saw now what and why Samantha did what she did. The daughter was also a witch, and she would have asked who he was and where her father was.
He found himself wondering about the genetics of crossing a... he hated to call them witches... and ordinary humans, then shook his head. He was years away from his laboratory, and he doubted that he would be allowed to get genetic samples, anyway.
Tabitha scowled at her mother, then turned andwalked back down the hall. A moment later, they heard a door slam. Samantha winced. "Do you have a teenager, Dr. Beckett?" she mused.
"Call me Sam. And no... I don't think so..." He looked over to Al, who shook his head. "No."
"You don't remember?" Endora asked incredulously.
"Leaping through time causes gaps in his memory." Al sputtered. "But the important thing is that you change him back!" He glared at Endora.
"Me? I can't change him back! It's Samantha's spell. Witchcraft does have rules, you know..." She smiled. "No, you don't know, do you? You're just a mortal."
"I think I'm going to get Stevens now," Al said, ignoring Endora. "Maybe he'll talk some sense..." He opened the Imaging Chamber door, muttering.
"Al, wait!" Al stopped in the doorway. "Leave him for a moment." He glanced at the two ladies. "What does Ziggy say I'm supposed to do?"
Al stepped back in, and the door closed behind him. "Oh. I hadn't gotten that far."
The Observer punched a few buttons. He looked up, his face bleak. "You're sure you want to know."
"Yes, I want to know."
"I think we should step into the other room."
Samantha chewed her lip. "You can say what you need to right here."
"Tabitha... disappears tomorrow. She's found..." he cleared his throat uncomfortably. "...dead on the streets of L.A. Shot." He looked at the two ladies. "God, I'm sorry." #
Samantha sat down, white-faced. "Tabitha... are you sure?"
Sam sat down beside her. "It will happen... if we don't prevent it from happening. And we will prevent this from happening, somehow."
Endora looked at Al. "But you don't know how you will prevent this, do you?"
"We can access computers all across the country... police files, newspapers, court records and so forth," Al said bitterly. "We can guess what's going to happen... but we don't have access on personal lives unless they spill out onto public record." Al glanced at Endora and his face softened. "Can you tell the future?" he asked gently.
"We're witches," Endora said softly. "Not soothsayers. We can go to the past, but never the future."
Samantha looked at Sam. "Darrin has said that our life seemed like a sitcom." She smiled ruefully. "I guess we just took a sharp left turn into drama, didn't we?"
Sam stood up and paced the room. "Not if I can help it. Let's brainstorm. Most teenagers run away for a reason. Since it's obvious that you and Darrin aren't child-beaters, then what would be another reason?"
They were all silent. "Samantha," Sam said finally. "Why did I have to confirm your order to Tabitha? Has she been listening to you?"
"No, she has not. It usually takes five or six times before she'll do anything I say. And then half the time she has to confirm it with her father." She looked at Sam, and twitched her nose. A glass appeared in her hands, and Al took a step backward. "I think Darrin will forgive me this one." She took a sip.
"I wish you wouldn't do that," Al spouted.
Sam grinned. "I wish I could do that. It would make up for the time you sneaked up on me." He looked at Endora, then back at Samantha. Something fell into place. "She also didn't seem very respectful to you?"
"I almost have to tie her down to talk to me... but she'll visit her other grandmother all the time." She looked at Samantha. "And Maurice kept complaining that he never saw her anymore, so this has been going on for a year or so. Oh, once she saw him, she'd warm up to him, but she acts like she doesn't want to see us."
"Maurice?" Sam asked.
A shadow passed over Endora's face.
"Maurice... was my father," Samantha said. "He passed away late last year... at much too young an age."
"He was only 632," Endora said slowly. Sam blinked, and Al looked surprised for a moment. "We often went our separate ways. I never thought I would miss him this much, Samantha."
"I am sorry, Endora," Al said. "I know what it feels like to lose someone you love very much."
"Do you?" she said lowly. "Well, then, maybe you're not so bad after all, Mr. Calavicci."
"Call me Al."
"Let's get back to the main point," Sam said. He pointed at her drink, and she looked at it, puzzled. "You undoubtedly have rules in this household. Would one of them happen to be 'no witchcraft'?"
Samantha blinked. "Well, of course."
"And I never understood why," Endora spouted.
"You and Darrin don't get along, do you?" Sam asked Endora.
"We've... had our arguments."
Samantha looked sideways at Endora.
"And have you ever used witchcraft to solve these arguments?"
"Well... yes. And so have other members of my family. But he deserves everything. He's a prejudiced son-of-a..."
"Mother! Yes, he is prejudiced, but he's learning. And, no, he doesn't deserve everything." Samantha looked thoughtful. "And I'm afraid I have to admit that some of my family have played some dirty tricks on Darrin. Some of the things he's been changed into..."
"In front of Tabitha?"
Samantha and Endora looked at each other. "Yes," Endora said. "I'm afraid so. We're a bit... mercurial. It's in our nature."
"Bored is also a good way of putting it," said Samantha. "I think that's why I enjoy doing things the mortal way. It makes time go faster."
"So this is why she respects Darrin's side of the family, and won't have anything to do with yours. She loves her father, and she's probably rebelling against these... 'dirty tricks.'"
"She is a witch, also?" Al asked.
"Yes," Endora said. "She would be a powerful one if you didn't have that silly rule here."
"But she needs to suppress her powers to live among Mortals, Mother."
"Why? Why does she have to live among Mortals?" Endora spouted.
"Because we're here, and she's not old enough to live by herself."
"Does she always have to live here?"
"I agree," Al said unexpectedly. "You're suppressing her natural abilities in order for her to 'fit in'."
"You agree," Samantha said, puzzled.
"I do." He pointed at Sam. "Look. Sam's a natural genius. He suppressed his abilities when he was young, because he was surrounded by dummies like us. He needed to fit in."
"Al," Sam said. "I wouldn't have put it that way."
Al ignored him. "It's also possible that she's suppressing her powers because she loathes herself for what she is."
"That's possible," Samantha mused.
"Samantha," Sam said. "Is it possible you can convince your husband to talk to your daughter about this? Can you convince him that she should use her powers in the house?"
Samantha thought a moment. "I think so."
"Then I think she and her father had better have a talk." He waited a moment, and was disappointed. "Al, I haven't Leaped..."
"Oh," Samantha said, "I need to change you back..."
Al stood, his mouth open. "That wasn't a Leap. Did you do something..." He caught the look on Samantha's face. "Sorry, I didn't mean to imply..."
"Somebody took him," Endora said slowly.
"I had a feeling it wasn't that easy." Al's face turned grim.
Sam found himself in a cage in a laboratory that looked like it was built out of a cloud. Beakers and tubes festooned the walls. A shelf of jars were labeled with commonplace names - water, ammonia, and so forth. Almost to Sam's disappointment, he didn't see one eye of dragon or tongue of newt.
A teenage boy was looking at him. His shock of red hair stuck straight up and a chain dangled from one ear. The boy sniffled, then looked over his shoulder. "Dr. Abraham," he whined in a bored tone. "Your test specimen is here."
"Ah. Good!" came a voice from another room. Another cloud? Sam thought giddily. Then another thought... test specimen?
The Doctor appeared before Sam and considered him. In turn, Sam studied him back. The... warlock, he supposed... was short and round and put Sam in mind of a barrel with legs. He was partly bald, and his remaining strip of white hair stood horizontal from his scalp. His eyes were bright green and he squinted slightly. He wore a commonplace lab coat, white shirt, white slacks, and black shoes with red and gold shoelaces.
Dr. Abraham wrinkled his forehead, looking puzzled. "You're supposed to panic by now, you know."
Sam shrugged. "I don't feel like it." He had a feeling that he better play it cool - let the doctor take the lead. "You don't want to know where you are?"
"Perhaps." Sam turned, saw a chair in his cell, and sat down.
Abraham smiled. "Why don't you guess?"
"Ah." Sam looked around calmly. "I'm in a laboratory." Abraham's smile faded. "But where is the laboratory?" "Does it make a difference?" Sam sighed. He was dying of curiosity... but he had to get back to Samantha and Tabitha. Perhaps if he infuriated the warlock, he would be sent back?
The warlock looked at him. "No, I suppose not. It's not necessary to our little experiment, anyway. Actually, this is quite nice. I had to sedate the last two, and that skews the results, don't you know."
"No," Sam said, sitting forward. "I don't know." Well, perhaps this one couldn't be infuriated. Perhaps he should be friendly. "So. You're a scientist?"
"Yes," Abraham smiled. "You might call me that, although I've never had formal training as you know it. I've always wanted to know about the how, instead of the just do it or else. In specific, I'm interested in DNA."
"I'm..." Sam started, then realized that he still looked like Darrin. "Um... I've always been interested in science. What branch is this?"
Abraham smiled ruefully. "You'd never believe me if I told you."
"Ok..." Sam said slowly. "Then... why did you pick me?" "Oh. It's completely random testing. Just the luck of the draw."
Sam remembered Tabitha. "You know, you have terrible timing. Couldn't you have..."
"Well, we're wasting time," Abraham interrupted, as if he hadn't heard. He ran his hand through his hair, making it stand outward even straighter. "You will be returned tomorrow with no memory of this, anyway. In the meantime, you will experience some... changes, and I shall obtain skin samples from you. I wish to find how these changes affect you. You will not be harmed."
He nodded his head once, looked puzzled, then nodded his head again. Sam found himself looking upwards at the Doctor. What did the Doctor do... knock him out?
"Well," Abraham said. "That was incredibly difficult, for some reason. Perhaps you have some warlock blood in you."
Sam looked around, then sat back automatically on his haunches and looked down at himself. Four orange paws... paws? He opened his mouth to ask a question, but only a plaintive meow came out. The Doctor opened the cage and scooped Sam up into his arms, holding him firmly. "Now, I'll just take a pinprick from you. Don't worry..." he grinned, "And don't try to escape. It's a long way down."
He carried Sam over to a window, and Sam's jaw dropped. From the size of the Earth and the look of the terrain, they must be somewhere on the Moon.
"But you have to find him." Al paced the living room. "Ziggy's pulling a blank." He shook the hand-link for good measure and glared at it.
"I know that, Al." Samantha stepped in front of Al, who screeched to a halt before he walked through her. "It's not that easy, ok?"
Endora stood over to one side, musing. "Do you remember when Tabitha and I played 'Find the Unicorn'?"
Samantha and Al looked at each other, then at Endora. "Yes, Mother. So?"
Endora looked up the stairs. "I could never fool her. I could hide the unicorn where you'd never find it, but she would always aim right towards it."
Samantha looked up the stairs. "You never told me that."
"I think I did, but you forgot."
"You're saying that she..." Al inclined his head towards the room, "could find Sam? She doesn't know Sam!"
"No. Samantha never changed him back... remember? I'm saying she could find her 'father.'"
Al exhaled loudly. "Well, let's try it."
Samantha crossed her fingers. "Tabitha... come down here, please. We need you." They waited a second. "Tabitha, I mean now! Your Father's missing."
They heard the door open. "Dad?" The teenager started down the stairs. "What have you done with him now?" she glared at her grandmother.
Endora looked shocked. "Nothing! Witches honor."
"It wasn't your grandmother," Samantha said, chewing her lip. "Somebody took him... and I can't find him!" She looked upset. "You're good at finding things... can you?"
Tabitha looked at her mother and nodded once, a crafty look on her face.
"Just a second," Endora said. "Esmerelda!" She called out.
"Oh, God, I forgot about Adam," Samantha said.
The look disappeared on Tabitha's face. "You are upset!"
"Of course I'm..." Samantha said, just as a thin, nervous looking woman appeared in the living room.
"Yes, Endora!" She looked around the room belatedly. "Hello, everybody..." her eyes stopped at Al, and she shrank back. "Who are you?"
"Never mind him!" Endora said sharply. "Could you look after Adam? Make sure he doesn't blow up the neighborhood?"
"Of course, Endora." Esmerelda went upstairs.
"Adam is into explosives," Endora said at Al's questioning look.
"Oh," Al said, and blinked.
"Go ahead, Tabitha," Samantha said.
Tabitha closed her eyes and concentrated a minute, then looked at her mother, puzzled. "He's a long ways away. How did he get there?"
"Do you think you can take all of us there?" Endora asked.
Tabitha thought a moment. "I think so." She spread her arms out, then looked around, puzzled. "I moved us, but we didn't go anyplace."
Endora looked puzzled.
Al rubbed his face, then sniffed. "Hold it." He reached out and took hold of Endora's arm. "I smell your perfume."
Endora glared at him. "I beg your..." She looked down at his hand, then looked at Tabitha with new respect. "Oh. Oh!"
Al's handlink squawked. "Al, Ziggy's telling me there are people in the Imaging Chamber with you! How in the world...!"
Al grinned ruefully. "Yeah, Gooshie. Tabitha's spell worked better than she thought."
"Never mind. We're coming out." He looked at Samantha. "You should have told her to look for Sam. Tabitha just propelled you into 1999."
Tabitha wrinkled her nose. "What's the geek..."
"Tabitha!" Samantha said.
She looked at her mother. "... this guy talking about? Dad's here, isn't he?"
"Yeah," Al said, with a grin. "Look, we're going to see your Dad, but I think I had better explain a couple of things to you..." He looked at Endora and Samantha, who nodded.
Abraham petted Sam absentmindedly as he took a skin sample, and Sam was surprised to find how incredibly good being petted felt. He started purring and closed his eyes, then stopped, startled. What was he doing? He was not a cat, he was a human, no matter what this... warlock... did to him.
Still... it felt awfully good, and while he was waiting to be rescued, he may as well relax and enjoy it. After all, how many humans get the chance to see things from the animal's point of view? Perhaps he'd even get to write this experience down! He purred louder, flexing his paws.
Abraham smiled absently. "Good, good... you have the right attitude." He emptied the contents of the vial into a machine. The screen above it lit up... with a picture of Sam's face. Sam stopped purring, and his tail bushed. This was a picture of his face!
The Doctor looked up at the screen in amazement, then frowned. "Hmmph. Plastic Surgery, right?"
The cat nodded with relief. Better that Abraham not find out the truth.
"Crude method. Ah, well. The pain you humans go through..." He nodded at Sam.
Sam found himself with his head lying on the counter, and he felt colder. He raised it up and looked around at himself. Yes, he still had a tail. In fact, he was all tail... and scales, too, and a rattle. He slithered over to the Doctor, who picked him up again. Oh, boy... a snake. He stuck his tongue out, automatically sniffing the air. Geez, he hoped Al would come soon!
"Oh, come on," Tabitha said. "There's no such thing as time travel." She shifted in her chair, and looked around at Al's office, sneering at the picture of Al, Sam, and Donna. Her mother and grandmother stood behind her.
"There's no such thing as witches," Al countered. "Or ghosts... or werewolves... well, I'm not so sure about the werewolves. I never met one."
"I have," Tabitha said, twirling her hair. "And they smell!"
Al gulped and turned a little white. "Ok, so they smell. The point I was trying to make was that you don't know everything."
"Besides," Samantha interjected. "Don't you remember when Aunt Clara zapped us back to the 1600's? They were going to try Daddy as a witch, then Aunt Clara remembered the spell."
Tabitha wrinkled her nose at her mother. "Well, vaguely, I guess. But we're... you're witches. These are humans. We can't do such things."
"Not on our own, no," Al said slowly. "We invent technology to help us. You use your mind... or something beyond my comprehension... to help you."
"Don't class me with them, Calavicci!"
Al looked at her. "I don't recall ever telling you my name."
"Sure you did. You're Admiral Albert Calavicci, former astronaut..." Her voice trailed off, and she looked stubborn.
"You didn't," Endora looked at Samantha. "She can sometimes read minds, too, which is almost nonexistent in witches... but not unknown. She needs to be taught in that power."
"No," Tabitha said flatly. "You are not teaching me anything. Besides, I saw his picture at school. You were an astronaut."
"I was an astronaut, but in 1980, I wasn't an Admiral. So where did you find that out?" Al sat back and pursed his lips. "You don't have to be scared, you know."
Tabitha looked at him with an unreadable expression. "Who said I was scared?"
"Power is not bad if used wisely. Nuclear power can blow up cities... but it can be used to generate electricity and it also runs this project. And you have had the best teachers to help you use this power." He looked at Tabitha. Her lower lip was trembling. He sighed and stood up. "I think you should see your father now."
Samantha looked at her daughter. "May I come, too?"
Tabitha got up, looked at her mother a second, then rushed into her arms, sobbing. "Mom, I don't want to hurt Daddy! He's so... fragile."
Samantha smiled. "Just because we have dingbat relations who can't handle their powers doesn't mean you'll hurt Daddy." She looked at Endora.
"Humph. I think I've been insulted!" Endora said, frowning. She winked at Al. "Well, I think I'll skip this little family reunion. I've had enough of this sentimental hogwash for one day." She started to wave her arm.
"Mother!" Samantha yelled.
"Where are you going?"
"Why, to..." She looked at Al. "Oh. Yes. Well, maybe I should remain here. You can come pick me up when you're through."
"I'll take you to the cafeteria," Al said. "I wish I could offer more..."
Endora smiled at him. "Grandmama!" Tabitha said. "Don't you dare!"
Endora frowned at Tabitha. "You're sounding more like your mother every day."
Al opened his door. "After you, ladies." Endora started out, then her eyes opened wide. Al peeked out the door. "Oh, this is Tina. She... um... works on the project."
"She's his girlfriend," Tabitha giggled.
"Really?" Endora's eyebrows raised.
"I heard you had visitors." Tina looked at Endora, and it looked to Al like she nodded. Endora looked at Al speculatively.
"Grandmama," Tabitha whispered. "Is she really..?"
Tina smiled and walked down the hall. "See you later, Al."
Al narrowed his eyes at the retreated woman. Could she be...? Naaw. He led the ladies down the narrow hall.
Sam hated to admit it, and he was truly worried about Tabitha, but... he hoped Al wouldn't come too soon. Once he had gotten over his original apprehension of Abraham's intentions - he had been almost afraid that dissection was a distinct possibility - he had been enjoying himself. Even though zoology was not one of his specialties, he was dead certain that no scientist alive could tell for a certainty what an eagle felt when it flew, how a frog felt when it jumped, or what an elephant felt when it roared. In fact, he especially enjoyed roaring. The half-asleep lab assistant almost fell off his chair.
Fortunately, Abraham was giving him a little latitude. In fact, he seemed quite happy that Sam was enjoying himself... he muttered something about fear not skewing the results. What exactly the Doctor was looking for, Sam wasn't sure. Perhaps DNA drift? Hopefully not... he pushed that worry to the back of his mind. As much as he was enjoying himself, he certainly wouldn't want to be stuck as an animal. Abraham had expanded the laboratory to include the crater. He had to... at the moment, Sam had been a whale, and, at the moment, he was a dolphin. After going to shore to dutifully give the warlock a skin sample, he was racing around the pool. He dove down to the bottom and jumped high in the air, splashing noisily. He had wondered if he could do that, just like the dolphins at Sea World.
"Time for another change," the Doctor called out. Sam swam up to shore, disappointed. He just got used to one form when Abraham called for the next. But, oh, well. At least he was experiencing a large spectrum.
Abraham nodded at him, and Sam sank deep into the water. His tentacles drifted up beside him, and he looked at Abraham through apparently one eye... no stereo vision. He felt rather... amorphous, he guessed. Abraham crooked one finger, and somehow, he swam to the surface, where the doctor took his skin sample. Automatically, Sam released a liquid, and the water around him turned black. Oh, boy... he was an squid!
Endora scrutinized Al's pocket, then continued stirring her tea. "I believe your coat is calling you," she said sardonically.
Al sighed, put his coffee down, and took out the handlink. After they escorted Samantha and Tabitha to the Waiting Room, he and Endora had retreated back to his office. Now he was rather glad he opted to have the drinks delivered. He hated talking into a blinking Rubix cube in a public place. "Yes, Ziggy."
"How many more people do you plan to tell about Project Quantum Leap?"
"Is that any of your business?" He grimaced at Endora. "Yes, Admiral, it is my business. I need the statistics in order to project possible outcomes. I'm also curious."
"What in the aether is that?" Endora peered at the blinking handlink.
"It's my connection to our computer."
"A computer?" She looked doubtful. "One of those big boxes with reels of tape?" She sat back in her chair. "You must be kidding."
"No, Madame," Ziggy said. "I'm a small box. I can compute equations at thousands a nanosecond... if I choose to. And I have the capacity to store..."
Al sighed. "Drop it, Ziggy. Endora, you really don't want to hear this, do you?"
Endora narrowed her eyes. "No." She looked thoughtful. "At least, not at this moment. But is this what the future holds... impudent boxes?"
Al leaned forward. "Ziggy is highly top-secret... so I do hope you will keep this to yourself." His eyes hardened. "I don't want anything to harm this project while Sam is trapped back in time."
"Are you threatening me?" Endora smiled slowly. "How would you back your threats up?"
"I'd figure out a way."
Endora leaned forward and looked him in the eye, then nodded. "I like you. You have spunk."
"I've had to have... spunk." He relaxed and sat back. "Anyway, as far as I know, there's only one of Ziggy... thank God."
"Yes, there's only one of me. And I believe you insulted me."
Al closed his eyes. "I'll deal with you later."
"You didn't answer my question. At the moment, Samantha is telling her husband about the Project."
"Oh, this should be good," Endora crowed. "I'll bet he's buying every word, too."
Ziggy ignored her. "I want to know if you will tell more subjects"
Al poised his finger above a button. "The answer is 'no', Ziggy. N-O. And don't interrupt me." His finger descended.
"Also, I believe I have a lock on Dr. Beckett."
Al's finger stopped. "You do? Where? And why didn't you say that first?"
"Would you have answered my question?"
"WHERE is he?" Al growled.
"He's on the moon. However, some odd things are happening with his brain waves. Perhaps it's distortion from the distance."
"Huh. You've blown a circuit, Ziggy. Nothing can live on the moon."
"I have," Endora interjected. "Dull place. I much prefer Paris."
"Alright, alright," he sighed. "Yeah, I've been to the moon, too, but I prefer New York." He offered an arm to Endora, and she rose with a smile.
"You have manners, too."
"Yeah, well," he said uncomfortably. "I hope you don't mind coming. I have a gut feeling this is more in your territory."
"Not at all," Endora said, as they exited his office. "And New York... isn't bad. I believe we have a lot in common, Admiral."
Al looked at her, then decided to pass the comment up. "Look. I don't know what you can do. But would it be possible for us to be completely invisible... and I mean, no noise, too... to whoever is on the moon, except for Sam?"
"Of course. Don't underestimate me, Admiral."
"Believe me," he smiled. "I haven't."
Sam was rather sorry he had taken off from the desk. Dealing with multifaceted eyes was rather confusing and more than a little dizzying... although standing on the side of the desk was rather interesting. However, if he had the capacity to throw up, he would have. Cautiously, he turned around, and aimed for where he thought the desk was. Being a fly was not fun, and he hoped the Doctor would come back soon.
Suddenly, something was in front of him. Startled, he veered off, then buzzed closer. There was something familiar about that disconnected image... Al! With Endora. He buzzed toward Al, only to have Al swat him. Fortunately, his hand passed through Sam's body.
Sam retreated again, and buzzed in circles. How could he let Al know... what was he thinking of? The fly instinct must have taken over. Al couldn't hit him!
Boldened, he circled Al's head, then circled Endora. Al looked annoyed, and swatted at the fly again. He didn't recognize Sam! Sam laughed in his mind. Well, why should he?
Al was saying something, but Sam couldn't hear it. Apparently, it was in a frequency that Sam couldn't pick up. Hmmm. He located the door, then buzzed to the other room, where Abraham was gazing at Sam's image on the screen. On the second try, he landed on the Doctor's hand.
Absentmindedly, Abraham nodded at Sam, and Sam found himself sitting on his haunches. He looked at himself. Grey and white coat, a wet nose, and he almost came to Abraham's waist. The Doctor petted him and ruffled his ears.
Sam heard a strangled noise from the doorway, and he turned and trotted over to Al. "Sam," Al said, backing off. "Is that you?" He shook his head. "Naaw. Couldn't be."
Sam nodded his head and whined softly, then looked at Endora, who was holding Al's arm. Endora said something to Al, then smiled at Sam. After a second, Sam remembered that the power for the Imaging Chamber wasn't great enough for him to hear Endora.
Wait a minute, what was Endora doing in the Imaging Chamber? He cocked his head, looked at Al, and made a questioning noise, then sniffed at Al's and Endora's legs. As he thought. He couldn't smell a thing.
"You must be kidding," Al said to Endora. "That's Sam?" Sam nodded his head again, slowly, then barked.
Al turned pale. Automatically, Sam rushed beside him, then felt foolish. What was he going to do? He couldn't catch a hologram. He whined softly, looking up at Al.
"No, he looks alright," Al replied, then smacked his head. "What am I saying? My friend's a shaggy dog!... What do you mean, that can be fixed?"
"Oh. Ok," Al's lips set, then he looked down at Sam. "Hang in there, pal. The cavalry's coming. We'll get you out of this." Al grinned tightly. "In the meantime, don't get near any trees, ok?"
Sam narrowed his eyes, then panted at him as he lifted his rear leg at Al.
Al lifted his hand to his head. "Cute, Sam. Real cute... I definitely gotta see Beaks after this. I will see you later. And I do mean you!" He waved as he and Endora exited the Imaging Chamber.
Sam lifted his foreleg and waggled it at Al. As he absentmindedly licked his coat, he wished that he could ask Al a few things. He lifted his head and looked at Abraham. Was he ever going to be done?
"You're sure these are not witches." Darrin was leaning on the Waiting Room table. He looked at the psychologist, who was standing by the Waiting Room door, then he glanced down at the mirrored table, which showed Sam Beckett looking up at him.
"No, Darrin... these are mortals. This is a time travel experiment." Samantha looked a little harried.
"Daddy," Tabitha interjected. "These people can't even lift a paperclip off a table without using their hands. I know. I looked into their heads."
"You looked into their... what?," Darrin looked at Tabitha sideways. "Samantha. Is this normal?"
"You know it isn't. I've told you that when we got married. Maybe it's something she got from you."
"You did tell me?"
"Remember," Dr. Beaks said. "Part of the problems of Leaping is the memory loss." She smiled. "Although his is less than most."
Samantha turned to face the teenager. "Tabitha. That was very rude. You shouldn't look into minds without permission."
"I didn't mean to!" She looked rebellious.
Samantha sighed. "No, probably not. I'm sorry, dear." She looked up at Dr. Beaks. "Doctor... could I talk to Darrin alone?"
"You'll still be monitored."
"That's fine. Tabitha, please go with Dr. Beaks."
She looked at the couple. "Can't I have any say in this?"
"Yes. You can," Darrin said. "This does involve you. And Adam, too. But he's not here."
"I can fix that," Tabitha said brightly.
"No!" her parents yelled in unison.
"You would give Esmerelda a heart attack," Samantha continued.
Dr. Beaks shook her head. "I've seen some weird things... I'll be right outside." She left the room.
Samantha sat down on the Waiting Room table beside Darrin. "We need to have her tutored in witchcraft."
"Sam..." He turned his attention at his wife. "Are you sure...?"
"We have to. We're denying her her heritage! It's one thing for me to choose the mortal way... now it's time for her to choose."
Darrin sighed. "I knew this was coming."
Samantha looked startled. "You did?"
"And I've been thinking the same thing."
"You have?" Samantha looked thoughtful. "Maybe you have. You have been awfully nice to Mother lately... considering."
He got up and walked around the table. "Remember when Joe Eames got fired? I don't believe I ever told you the real reason why."
"You said that it was a personality conflict with Mr. Tate."
"No, it was Big Baby Baby Foods. The client didn't like Joe Eames skin color."
"Daddy. You're kidding." Tabitha looked shocked.
"No, Tabitha, I'm not." He looked at Samantha. "Joe Eames is a talented man. He should never have been fired. Thank Heavens he got a better job." He turned around and faced the far wall. "After he was fired, I finally got to thinking what I had been doing to you all of these years. I'm sorry, darling."
Samantha smiled, came around the table and kissed his cheek. "I chose this life."
"Anyway, whatever you and Tabitha think best... however, I do feel that she should keep up with her regular... um, mortal..." he looked down uncomfortably, "...education through High School... just to give her a balanced view of her choices." He smiled at his daughter. "She'll have to leave home someday, but not yet, I think."
"Yes." Samantha turned toward her daughter. "What do you think, Tabitha? You still have to go through normal school... what about being tutored in witchcraft after hours? We'll help, of course."
Tabitha looked down. "I guess so." She looked up and at her mother. "I'll try it." She looked pensive. "Can we go home now? I'm going to miss 'Magnum'."
Darrin laughed. "She's a teenager, all right." He plucked at the collar of the Fermi suit. "Actually, I'd like to get out of here myself. Can you...?"
Samantha bit her lip. "I thought about it, but I don't think so. Much as I'd like to... I don't think we should fool around with the time lines, since we don't know where Dr. Beckett is."
The Waiting Room door opened. "But we do," Endora said. "He's on the moon back in 1980." Al followed her in with a funny look on his face.
"What in the world..." Darrin shook his head. "Scratch that. On the moon?"
Al's face scrunched up. "Yeah," he said slowly. "He's a shaggy dog." He looked at Darrin. "Have you had to put up with this all these years?" He looked at the three witches. "Forgive me, ladies. I didn't mean it like that."
"No offense, Admiral," Endora said. "I know what you mean."
"Hello, Endora," Darrin said slowly. "You didn't..."
"No, I did not."
"I'm sorry. I had to ask. We've had our differences..."
"Mmmm. Yes," Endora mused. "Tabitha, we need you to take us to him. Your spell brought us forward, so your spell will have to take us back."
Tabitha stood stock-still. "But I don't even know what Dr. Beckett looks like."
"I do," Darrin said. He leaned over the table and pointed. "There." Sam's image looked up at him.
"Oh, him! That's the man the Admiral's been thinking about so strongly. Oh, I can do that."
Samantha gave Darrin a quick kiss on the cheek. "I'll see you later."
"Yeah," Darrin said. "Good luck. I only wish I could have met the Doctor."
Tabitha waved her arms. "Wait," Al said, trying to disengage himself from Endora's arm. "I can't..."
"...go." He found himself in Abraham's Lab. The young lab assistant was staring at them.
"Oh," Tabitha said. "Sorry."
"We'll take you back," Endora said. "But first, I think we have a few things to settle with my good friend Abraham."
"You know him?" Al said. Samantha echoed him.
"I grew up with him. Used to beat him at 'Race Around the Moon.'" She smiled. "But he was better at transformations." She shrugged. "I'm more powerful. He'll listen to me."
She strode forward into the lab. The young assistant jumped in front of her. "You can't go in there! He's conducting important experiments."
She stared at the kid. "I am far older and much more powerful than you. Would you care to try my patience?"
The assistant gulped. "No, ma'am."
Abraham appeared, holding a chimpanzee. "What's going on... oh, hello, Endora. Nice of you to drop by. Would you care for a tour?"
Endora sighed. "No, Abraham." She stared pointedly at the monkey, who was struggling to get down. "I believe you have something of ours."
Al paled. "You don't mean..." The chimp jumped down, raced to Al, and nodded. Al reached out toward Sam. Sam looked at the hand and then back at Al, a puzzled look on his face. Al touched him. Sam's mouth dropped open, then he jumped up onto Al, giving him a big hug and knocking him over.
"This wasn't exactly the reunion I had in mind, Sam." Al sat up, shaking his head. Sam managed to look penitent, raised his hands in a questioning gesture, and jerked his thumb at the professor. He then screeched at Al, touched his hand, gestured at the witches, then around the lab.
"It was an accident," Al said. "Tabitha didn't mean to bring me."
Sam pointed at Tabitha and cocked his head.
"Abraham," Endora said. "I think they would converse better if you changed him back."
"But I'm not through..." He caught the look on Endora's face. "I guess I have enough samples." He nodded his head at Sam, who stood up and grabbed Al's shoulders.
"But," Tabitha said, troubled. "He looks like Daddy." "That's my spell," Samantha said. "I'm sorry I tried to fool you, Tabitha. I didn't want you to know that Daddy had disappeared until I knew what was going on." She wiggled her nose at Sam.
"Oh, God," Al said. "It is you." He grabbed Sam by the shoulders, then pulled him into a bear hug.
"Oh," Abraham said. "That's why I had so much trouble! He was already under a spell." He looked at Endora, then at Samantha. "But, why..."
"Let's put it this way," Sam said, clearing his throat and pulling away from Al. "This family needed my help, and that's the way I helped them."
"It will all be clear in a few years." Endora crossed her arms. "And I don't want to hear of you taking anyone again!"
"But, Endora," Abraham said. "They're just mortals."
"They are people like you and me." She looked at Sam & Al. "Maybe better. They haven't had it so easy."
Samantha stared at her mother. "I wish your father was here," she said to Tabitha.
"But..." Abraham started.
"I'm still more powerful than you, and if I hear of you kidnapping someone again..." Endora turned to her family. "Let's go home."
"Wait. What do you mean, it'll be clear in a few..." Abraham started to say. But the five were gone.
Sam found himself back in the Stevens' living room, still holding onto Al. He caught a glimpse of himself in a mirror across the room. His image still looked like Darrin. "Forgive me," he said. "But can you fix..."
Samantha shook her head. "We're powerful, but not all-powerful. Sorry. I wish I could help your experiment."
Endora smiled and looked at the Admiral. "But I will help you all I'm able... when the time comes."
"You're on Project Quantum Leap?" Sam said.
"No, you're not," Al said decisively.
"How do you know?"
"Hmmm." Sam studied Endora. "Good point." He turned to Al. "I'm sure Darrin would like to be home. Al, why haven't I Leaped."
Al pulled out the hand-link. "How should I know?" He waved the hand-link at Sam. "I'm in blessed 1980 with you!"
"Oh," Samantha said. "Tabitha, can you put him back in the Imaging Chamber?"
"Yes. Even without taking him."
"Just a second." Sam took Al by the shoulders. "I'll see you. Next Leap. And may it be the one home."
Al nodded and looked crestfallen. "Next Leap."
Sam looked at Tabitha. Suddenly, his hands fell through Al, and the hand-link started squawking. "Never mind how I got in here, Gooshie," Al yelled. "Get ready for a Leap."
"What about Tabitha?"
Al punched the hand-link. "She's fine. See?" He showed the display to Sam. "No news report. And if she goes into Witch training, there's no way we can track her." He shook his head. "I can't believe I said that. Witches University?"
"So this is it?" Samantha said.
She walked over to Sam and kissed his cheek. "We'll see you later. Count on it." She pulled back as a short burst of light took him, and Darrin stood there.
"Am I back?" Darrin said.
"You're back," Samantha smiled. She hugged him, then
"Oh, brother," Tabitha said.
"You got it," Endora said, looking disgusted.
"Weeell?" Samantha said over Darrin's shoulder.