(Author's Note:  One asterisk (*) represents words
that would normally be in italics, and two asterisks
(**) represent a character's thoughts and ideas.  Read
and enjoy!)

 
           "Three Cheers for Leapers"
                   Chapter One

     The familiar flash of hot, blue light washed over
the frame of Dr. Samuel Beckett, Ph.D., and swept him
away into the usual untraceable limbo between leaps. 
The electric light was sharp, yet painless; coursing
through what Sam believed to be his feet and running
throughout his spine.  Though heíd been through it
over a hundred times, the transition between leaps
held a different feeling each time, each moment more
exhilarating than the last.  There wasnít any real way
of concentrating while he was traveling through space
and time, but Sam found it much more enjoyable to
relax and let himself speed along within the
enveloping light.  Sooner or later, he hoped, itíd be
this electric blue light that would send him home
again.

    Unfortunately, this wasnít going to be the leap
Sam was hoping for.  He felt the warm light quickly
melt away from his body, his fingers and toes
simultaneously recovering their sense of touch.  His
ears were pierced by the sound of a roaring crowd,
screaming and yelling over the din of what must have
been thousands of other people. Blinking away his
temporary blindness, Sam stared back at a stadium full
of cheering fans, all waving flags and pennants,
chanting and pointing at whatever it was that was down
below.  Sam turned slowly to find himself level with a
large football field, a mass of players heaped upon
one another near the thirty yard-line.  **At least
this time Iím not in the game,** he sighed, glad to
know that it wouldnít be his body crushed under the
mass of bulky players.

     His thoughts were interrupted by a tall girl with
a megaphone in hand, cheering loudly near Samís ear. 
"Letís get some Bobcat pride out here, everybody! 
Come on and help us cheer!"  The red-headed girl
dropped the megaphone onto the asphalt track that
surrounded the football field and picked up a pair of
green and white pom poms. "Youíre not going to sit
this cheer out, are you Kathy?"

     "Cheer?"  Sam responded blankly.

     "Well duh, we *are* cheerleaders," came a
response from behind. Sam whipped around to the side
to see a slim brunette clad in a green and white
miniskirt and sky-high pony tail face him with a
sarcastic frown. "Are you going to do this cheer or
not?"

     Sam gulped before looking down at his own
cheerleading uniform, the pleated miniskirt hardly
coming close to his bulky and hairy kneecaps.  "Oh,
boy."  **Iím a cheerleader?!  Oh, please, no...**

     The brunette scowled, bunching her own pair of
pom poms into her hands and whirling to face the
redhead.  "Marcy, if she canít do the routine,
donítbother putting her in there.  She hasnít gotten
it right since she screwed it up last week."

     "Kathyís the lightest, sheís got to be the one on
top of the pyramid."

     "But sheís--"

     "Iím the captain, Devon, and I say Kathyís on
top," Marcyís eyes narrowed quickly, making Devonís
frown turn even more sour.  "Go on over and tell the
other girls to get ready.  Weíll do the routine
without the pyramid for now."  She sighed as she
watched the other girl stalk over to the group of
giggling, miniskirted girls, scowling the whole way.

     "I donít think she likes me very much," Sam
muttered more to himself than to anyone else.

     Marcy shrugged slightly before readjusting the
ribbon wrapped about her pony tail.  "Donít worry too
much about Devon, sheís just got her spankies in a
twist, thatís all.  She really isnít even the greatest
cheerleader, so donít let her get to you."  She picked
up a group of pom poms from the asphalt and threw them
to Sam.  "You ready to go?"

     Sam eyed the plastic poms with a sick gaze,
fumbling with them between his hands.  "Errr...  Maybe
Devonís right, I should sit this one out.  You know,
until I get the routine down and all--"

     "But weíre not using the pyramid for this one,"
Marcy protested.  "You told me at practice that you
were fine with everything else."

     "Well, yeah, but...  I really donít think Iím
ready to do this one.  You canít put me in there, Iíll
just mess everyone else up."  He hoped the excuse
would be more than enough to get him out of the
embarrassment of hopping up and down in nothing more
than a flimsy cotton skirt.

     "Okay..."  Marcy furrowed her eyebrows at
"Kathyís" sudden hesitation.  "I guess weíll just have
to get Ashley to fill in for you."

     "Yeah, I guess so," Sam managed a weak smile as
Marcy ran over to lead the other girls with the
routine.  She pulled Ashley, a short-haired blonde,
off the sidelines and ran her back over to the
formation of the other girls. A couple seconds later,
Marcy and the others were rousing the crowd with a
long and complicated dance routine, complete with
backflips, cartwheels, and moves that Sam couldnít
even name, much less do himself.  He groaned, hoping
that this leap would be over quick enough for him to
stay away from any more pom pom action.  Heíd learned
a lot of things while leaping through time, but he was
afraid that cheerleading would soon be one that heíd
be adding onto his lengthening list of
accomplishments.  

     Sam dropped his poms to his side and sighed,
walking slowly towards what looked to be a restroom. 
"Why oh why, of all things, did I have to leap in as a
*cheerleader*?  Couldnít you have found something with
a little more... dignity?"  He stared up at the dotted
night sky with a slight amount of disgust,
halfheartedly hoping from some kind of
response from above.

     "What are you talking about? All the cheerleaders
I know are very dignified."

     The raspy voice of a familiar friend made Sam
drop his pom poms to the ground. "Al!  How many times
have I told you not--"

     "To sneak up on you, yeah, yeah, I know, Sam." 
The Italian Admiral leaned back and sucked another
drag from his cigar.  He chuckled a little, pointing
at his friendís choice of evening wear.  "But this
time, I couldnít resist."  He stared down at Samís
knobby legs and grinned at the sight of them in white
bobby socks and tennis shoes. "You know, youíve got
really cute ankles, Sam."

     "Stop it," Sam muttered, trying not to look
conspicuous amongst the crowd. Talking to a hologram
invisible to almost everyone else didnít exactly 
help in determining sanity, and Sam wasnít in the mood
to cross that line at the moment.  He picked up his
poms and dusted them off, trying to look nonchalant.

     "No, I mean it.  And that skirt..."  Al whistled
loudly before spinning on his heel. "Yowza, thatís one
cute skirt, Sam.  Youíd make a pretty good
cheerleader, if I do say so myself.  Well, minus the
hairy legs and all."

     "Well gee, thanks," Sam mumbled, heading for the
restroom again at a stallionís pace.

     Al frowned at the thought of being left behind. 
"Where ya goiní?"

     "To the ladiesí room," Sam cried back, not caring
if anyone managed to hear him screaming at apparently
nothing at all.

     "Great choice, Sam!"  Al chuckled triumphantly
before punching a sequence of keys onto Ziggyís
handlink and disappearing.

     With all the stories heíd heard about long lines
within womenís restrooms, Sam had prepared himself to
stand waiting for a long time.  But surprisingly
enough, the room was entirely empty, without a single
person in sight.  He was happy to be at least given
that much relief as he headed for the sink to get a
good look at himself in the mirror.  Kathy looked to
be about fourteen or fifteen years old, a ruddy
cheeked, curly haired brunette with rich brown eyes. 
Sam fingered a small pair of brass studded earrings
before running the palms of his hands over Kathyís
dark brown hair.  While he felt nothing after reaching
the end of his own hair, the mirror showed an image of
Kathy carefully running her fingers through strands of
dark, silky hair.  He didnít think heíd ever get used
to waking up with someone elseís face, or someone
elseís body; he wanted so much to be Sam Beckett
again.  Just to wake up and see himself in a mirror
instead of fumbling around in another personís clothes
and trying to make ends meet while living in another
personís life.  Heíd been leaping for so long that it
was hard to imagine what it was like to be himself... 
There were times when he honestly couldnít remember
what he looked like.  A result of his Swiss-cheesed
memory, most likely.  One day, hopefully, all that
would change.

    He heard a series of whirling and beeping as Al
popped into the room, his thick eyebrows scowling as
he approached Sam at the mirrorís edge.  "Sam?  Hey
Sam, thereís nobody in here!"

    "What are you talking about?  Iím here, arenít I?"
 Kathyís image was one of confusion in the mirror, her
lips pursed together as Sam turned around
to see Al. 

     "You donít count," Al sighed as he waved
his cigar at him, the smoke circling about his head
before disappearing instantaneously.  "Whatís 
the point of heading for the ladiesí room when there
arenít any actual ladies to check out?"

     "So we can talk without any interruptions," Sam
answered curtly, leaning against the edge of the sink.
"Now what have you got for me?"

     Al paused a minute with the handlink before
answering.  "Well, thereís some good news...  And some
bad news."

     Sam grew nervous.  Any time Al stalled like that,
*no* news was good news. "Well, what is it?"

     "Do you want the good news or the bad news
first?"  Al prompted.

     "No sense in making things worse right away," Sam
sighed, rubbing his palms together.  "Gimme the good
news first."

     "Okay...  Good news is, youíve leaped into the
year 1993.  Thatís the closest weíve gotten to getting
you to leap home since the last time."

     Sam nodded slightly, glad to hear of such an
accomplishment.  "And the bad news is...?"

     A wide smirk grew on Alís face as he tried to
stifle an upcoming bridge of laughter.  "The bad news
is...  Youíre a cheerleader!"

     Sam felt his cheeks burn red as he watched his
friend bowled over in a fit of laughter.  He should
have known that this whole cheerleading deal would be
too much for Al to ignore.  "Go on and laugh...  You
might as well get it out of your system now, I donít
want to hear any more jokes about this skirt or these
pom poms, or anything else for the rest of this
leap--do you hear me, Al?"

     "Iím sorry, Iím sorry," Al managed between hearty
chuckles, "If you only knew just how funny you look in
that little skirt--"

     "I think I have a pretty good idea," Sam
retorted, hands on his hips.  "Now come on Al, whatís
Ziggy got?"

     "All right, Sam, Iím sorry," Al wheezed from the
loud spasm of laughter, trying to regain his
composure.  "Like I said, itís September 17th, 1993.  
Your name is Katherine Patterson, but everybody around
here calls you--"

     "Kathy," Sam supplied for both himself and Al.

     "Thatís right," Al continued, reading the small
print that ran across the handlink. "Youíre in San... 
San..."  He slapped the side of the small machine,
which gave a painful, wincing beep in reply.  "San
Antonio, Texas."  He shook the handlink for extra
measure, causing a series of whirring and squawking. 
"You--well, Kathyís a freshman here at the local high
school, and sheís also on the varsity cheerleading
squad."

     "That's great, Al. Just great."

     "What is it?"

     Sam slouched against the side of the sink.  "Come
on, Al.  This girl isnít just any cheerleader, sheís a
freshman on the varsity squad.  How am I supposed to
go out there and pretend to be that good?"

     Al shrugged, waving his prized Havana in the air.
 "How hard can it be? You get out there, hop around
with your pom poms, wave your spirit fingers, 
and--"

     "Wave my what?"

     "Spirit fingers," Al repeated seriously.  "You
know, itís when all the little girls  jump up and down
and wave their fingers around like this?"  He stashed
the handlink in his jacket pocket and used his free
hand to demonstrate, wiggling his fingers around like
crazy.

     "Thatís the stupidest thing Iíve ever seen," Sam
gawked.

     "Well, thatís what they do, Sam.  And thatís what
youíre going to have to do until Ziggy figures out
whatever it is youíre here to fix."

     "Horray," Sam moaned.

     "Thatís the spirit, Sam!  Give 'em the old, 'Rah,
rah, sis boom bah!í  You canít lose!"  Al conjured up
the white silhouette of the Imaging Chamber door and
winked devilishly.  "Hurry up and get out there, itís
almost halftime!"

     "Oh, no."

     "Oh, yes," Al smirked, halfway through the door. 
"Have fun, Sam!  And donít forget your spirit
fingers!"  He wiggled his own left hand in exchange 
for a farewell, and slammed the door closed behind
him.

     "Spirit fingers," Sam breathed crossly.  Al was
obviously having way too much fun with this leap. 
"Iíll give him spirit fingers."  He picked up his poms
and turned to face Kathyís image in the mirror.  "I
just hope I donít go out there and make a total idiot
out of myself."

     "Kathy?"

     Sam spun away from the mirror to see the girl
that heíd previously identified as Ashley standing
awkwardly behind him.  "Um...  Yes?"

     "Who are you talking to?"  Ashley questioned,
looking under the stalls for any lingering feet that
she hadnít already seen.

     "Oh, I was just, you know, giving myself a little
err...  pep talk before I go back out there," Sam
lied, crossing his fingers behind his back.

     "Oh."  Ashley nodded slowly, not buying much of
Samís story.  "Marcy sent me in here to find you, itís
almost halftime."

     "Yeah, halftime," Sam managed an lopsided smile
as Ashley led him outside the restroom.  "Oh, boy."