Captains and Admirals
A/N: Read some other Quantum Leap/Doctor Who stories, and this little thing wouldn't let go. Rated T for Jack's Language.
The year was 1999, and Jack was finally on holiday. Took some twenty years to actually get through to the higher ups that he really really needed one. While it wasn't the Vegas colony, the place it was named after had a certain charm to it. However, with the primitive gambling mechanisms, it was positively obscene as to how much money he made. Even to his tastes. And if he was absolutely honest with himself, the twentieth century wasn't on the up and up with telepathy just yet. While it was beyond unfair, he really enjoyed playing the roguish devil once again.
Jack had spent the better part of the week doing the circuit around the higher classed establishments. He made a point to not win too much to get himself kicked out, but that didn't mean the local yokels weren't on to someone who 'counted cards'. As if. Texas Hold'em, five card, seven card stud... All those had actual people to play against. Going against the wheel, or the slots was a set up for failure and he knew it. Twenty One was a dealer's game, but he still racked up enough money to get bumped from a few tables.
Being a Thursday night, Jack was relaxing at the Sands. He'd been here a few times in the fifties and sixties, so the poor soul on stage couldn't hope to compete. Ole' Blue Eyes was a hard act to follow. And contrary to popular belief, that man was decidedly flexible. Sammy wasn't, but that hardly mattered. He didn't go for the 'Popeye' look.
He was busy chatting up a stunning redhead when he felt a tap on his shoulder. "You know, it's usually customary for one of you to let us know when you're in town." Then the voice dropped to a whisper in his ear. "And she aint a she."
Jack laughed and turned around. "Like that matters?" The somewhat stunned older man raised his eyebrows at him. Looked Italian, he mused, and that stogey he was smoking definitely smelled Cuban. The man gained a few inches in height as he crawled onto the barstool next to him. Had to be five five, maybe?
"Well, I don't go for that, but to each their own," he conceded. Looking to the redhead in question, he tipped his hat. "Would you mind Mark? This is kinda official."
Before Mark could respond, Jack winked at him. "Nice surgeon," he inclined his head with a pointed stare at the abundant voluptuousness 'she' had. "Catch you later Marsha?" 'She' flushed completely and nodded 'her' head, before vacating the bar.
"Not a post-op," the man said, faintly amused.
Jack turned up his smile at him. "I say again, like that matters?"
The man laughed. "Gotta be Harkness. So what business does the British Government have in my neck of the woods at Christmas?" he got the bartender's attention. "Scotch. Neat."
"Holiday, or Vacation I should say," Jack said. "Damn. Been there too long. Picking up their lingo. Least I aint saying 'jolly good'... yet. So, you know my name. What's yours?"
The tone of voice made the man turn around to stare at him, both amused and alarmed at the same time. "While I appreciate the effort, I'm married. Just call me Al."
"All right. Al it is," Jack said, still smiling. "Who's toes did I step on?"
Al gave him a look. "Mine. Do you have any idea how preposterous your winning streak is? Boggles the mind. You flagged after the fourth casino. Everyone's wise now."
Jack looked crestfallen. "What gave me away?"
"New fangled program that goes through people's faces."
"Didn't realize that was out yet," Jack muttered. That got an arched brow from Al, but he didn't comment on it.
The bartender came back with Al's scotch. "Here you go Admiral." Al smiled and plopped a five dollar bill on the bar.
It was Jack's turn for the upturned brow. An Admiral? He turned up his thousand watt smile. "Glad to know I rank enough for stars."
Al looked at him. "You'd be surprised what comes across my desk," he said rather cryptically.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Al looked like he was hesitant to ask, but forged ahead. Leaning close, he whispered. "You mind telling me how you haven't aged? You look exactly the same as you did in nineteen seventy three."
Jack's smile vanished, and gave Al a wary look. "What do you know?"
"Do you remember that August?"
Jack paused and looked up, going over that year in his head. Not the best time for fashion, but there was a catchy little ditty about Mars that year. However, when he got to August, it got more than a little fuzzy. Becky was livid with him round the end of that month, but he could never remember why. Always figured it was one hell of a binge. "No." He looked back to Al. "I'll ask again. What do you know?"
The stare Harkness was giving Al actually made the Admiral flinch. "Definitely the same man," he muttered. "I don't usually get opportunities like this, and since your clearance is the equivalent of Top Secret... Come with me."
Jack stood when Al did and looked around, fully expecting to get jumped any minute. Al put his hands up in a placating manner. "Don't worry, I'm alone. We just need to talk somewhere a bit less open."
Jack appeared to relax, but his muscles were tensed. Al led him to a back room that was devoid of poker, and locked the door behind them. "Have a seat. We can play a hand while we talk."
Checking his 'wristwatch', Jack swept the room for bugs and found none. That was odd since this timeframe was particularly paranoid. The beeps his watch made caused the Admiral to give the device a slight smile. Once they were seated, Al dealt out a hand of seven card stud, no wilds. After a hand, Jack looked up at him. "What's this about?"
Al didn't even look up from the cards in his hand. "Quantum Leap."
Jack's cards hit the table face up. The look of surprise on his face was so genuine; he didn't remember the last time that happened. Unconsciously, he tugged his sleeve over his Manipulator. This was bad. This was beyond bad. This was very bad on the level of Doctor bad. Quantum Leap was the preliminary protocols that enabled the construction of his Manipulator. "Oh shit."
"Yeah, that about covers it," Al said with a wry smile. "Said the same thing too when you were in the 'guest quarters'."
Jack drained his Irish whiskey in one large gulp. "Did he leap into me?" he whispered. When Al gave a slight nod, Jack swore in several different languages that he hadn't uttered since nineteen sixty five and that damnable bus 'incident'. "What happened?" he asked with resignation.
"Well it was in the top five of the weird leaps, that's for sure," Al said. "Sam got your leap device working and met someone in two thousand and ten."
Jacks eyes were rather round now. "Who?" he breathed.
"He didn't have a name, but he helped Sam prevent a paradox. Ziggy was beside herself for three weeks while you two were leaping all over the nineteen forties."
Jack closed his eyes, dreading the answer. "Please tell me it wasn't the Blitz."
"Sorry," Al said quietly.
Jack shot out of his chair and hurled his glass at the wall. It shattered at the same time he yelled "Fuck!" Al let the man have his tirade, and quietly gathered the cards. "I've been waiting over a hundred years to find him again!" He spun around and glared at the Admiral. "And now you're telling me I did, and I don't remember it? How the fuck is that fair?" Al's wide eyed stare at him made Jack come up short. Maybe he didn't know he was immortal.
Al's next statement confirmed that thought. "And here I was thinking you were in a British equivalent of our project. Are you telling me that you didn't get stuck in nineteen seventy three?"
Jack's blank stare was really unnerving. "No. I've been stuck here since eighteen sixty nine."
Al shook his head. "Oh, I feel one hell of a migraine coming on."
"Tell me about it," Jack said. "I need a hyper-vodka," he muttered. "Tell me... Am I still in your waiting room?"
Al shook his head, and he looked like someone just shot his dog. "Not anymore," he said quietly. "No one is."
Jack backed his head up, and did some dates in his head. "This is after Sam went unbound, isn't it?"
Al put his elbows on the table and ran his hands through his hair. "We haven't been able to find him in months. After that weird bit at the day he was born, there's been nothing. No trace. Nada. Zip. Ziggy's almost shut herself down, she's so depressed."
Jack sat back down and sighed. "If it's any consolation, I know what she's going through."
"I was really hoping your project had some ideas."
"Don't have a project," Jack said. "It wont be around for a few thousand years, yet." He ignored Al's look of shock. "Why does my wrist strap still not work. You said he fixed it."
"He was told to undo it again," Al said in a monotone. "The Doctor said it wasn't time yet."
Jack looked up at him with a stab of hope. "I find him again." It wasn't a question.
Al nodded. "I'm supposed to give you a message."
Jack didn't say anything. The man had lost his best friend, and it wasn't his place to... well, maybe it was? "Tell you mine, if you tell me yours?"
Al gave him an odd look. "The Doctor said to be at this address on Christmas Day, two thousand and five." He fetched a piece of paper out of his wallet and slid it over. "Said he'd give you a hand that day."
Jack read the address and committed it to memory, before putting it in his vest pocket. "Thanks." While there wasn't an exact message he had for Al, he could point him in the right direction. It was the least he could do. He hadn't felt this happy in years. "You're still linked," he said simply, grinning.
Al looked up, confused. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"You and Sam," he said even more cryptically. "It'll come to you, I promise. Just make sure Sammy Jo is with you."
A light bulb went off in Al's head, and he looked at Jack with both hope and fear on his face. "Will it work?"
Jack shrugged. "Can't tell you. I'm sorry." Al deflated, and Jack took pity on him. "Time's all weird. Choices will make the difference between success and failure, but there is a chance." Jack smiled wide and winked at him.
Al stood up and it looked like ten years just fell off the man. "You have no idea how much that helps! Thank you!"
Jack stood and shook his hand, chuckling. "Just returning the favor."
Al bought Jack several more rounds that night, and they cracked wise at all the curves they saw, feathers or not. They made a game of figuring out which of the girls weren't for a few hours, and Jack only beat him by one. But then, that one had a very good surgeon and was a post-op. Al declined Jacks invitation for a bit of fun that night. Beth would flay him alive if he tried it, but talk and laughs she'd dealt with on a daily basis.
Two nights later, Al got together with Sammy Jo and prepared for an unorthodox retrieval procedure. It backfired spectacularly, and Al found himself in August Eighth, Nineteen Fifty Three... in the body of a woman. The irony was so thick, it made his Swiss cheesed brain hurt.
Six nights after that, Jack returned to the Hub after chasing down the 'Millennium Bug' and found a bloodbath.
Six years after that, he was standing outside a chippy of all things. There was an asteroid-come-spaceship hanging overhead. He felt the same urge that a lot of people did to go stand on a roof, but honestly... he did that enough as it is. Jack was fidgeting with his wrist strap, trying to locate the TARDIS, when something plopped on the ground not two steps away from him.
He stared at it with wide eyes. "You gotta be kidding!"