Date:  April 1,1999

     She watched, stunned, at what was happening.  Well, she didn't
actually WATCH--she'd never had eyes to see.  And she wasn't capable of
being stunned in any other sense than knowing that the word meant 'as
if not being able to move'. Then again, she supposed  she WAS stunned,
all the time.  After all, she was about 300 feet long, and several
thousand pounds heavy.
     Sam would have called her a 'big, beautiful lady' if he were home
again.  But he wasn't, and it looked more and more like he never would
be.  Al and Donna believed differently--but they weren't watching what
she was (sensing electronically would be a better way to define her
ability, but she had far too big an ego to admit to any weakness). 
Even worse, they couldn't calculate percentages as she did.
     Ziggy was terrified that she was watching Sam Beckett, her creator
and father (again, metaphorically), disappear once and for all. She
began to devote a great deal of processing ability to the problem...  

     "Dammit, Gushie--get her back online NOW!"  Al stormed around
Project Quantum Leap's Control Room again, having paced the entire
floor easily twenty or thirty times.  "I don't care what you have to
do, but get me the FUCK back to Sam!"  

     Gushie looked up, stunned himself, at Al's use of profanity. 
Never had he heard Al use anything that strong, not in five years of
watching Sam leap from bad to worse.  And there was nothing Gushie
could do to help Al, Sam, or the situation.  Everything checked
out--there was nothing wrong with Ziggy's programming.  But for some
reason they couldn't get her to respond to them--not verbally, not
through the monitor.  There was only silence.
     And without Ziggy answering, the door to the Imaging Chamber
wouldn't open.  Without Ziggy, Al couldn't get back to Sam at all. 
Gushie just didn't know what to do.  He opened his mouth to say so.
     "Don't even THINK about telling me you don't know what to do,
Gushie."  Al's head whipped around, the cigar in his hand literally
being crunched in two as Al leaned over the computer table.  The
burning end rolled slowly towards the edge.  "Sam is in real trouble. 
Not our usual trouble either.  Something is really different this time.
 You know how hard it was getting a lock on him earlier in this leap?" 
Gushie nodded, trying to understand Al's desperation.  "I was the one
who knew the answer, right?  I knew it was his birthday, right? 
RIGHT?"  Gushie nodded faster.  "Well, I know what's going on here,
too.  Sam's someplace he's not supposed to be.  Don't you get it? 
Sam's someplace WRONG, and they've tricked him and tricked me and he's
being told a lie!" Al slammed his hand against the table, knocking the
burning cigar end off the edge.  It dropped to the floor with a hiss
and rolled underneath the table.
     "But Admiral..."  Gushie paused, confusion plastered across his
face.  "What are you talking about?  WHO's tricked you?  How can you
tell something's wrong?"
     "I can tell, Gushie."  Al's face was bleak, as if the future were
already decided and the end was going to be one of grief.  A decidedly
strange reaction in a project where the entire point was that the
future was never a written event.
     Gushie looked at Al for a long second, becoming--if possible--even
more scared.  "I'm sorry, Admiral," he said, "...I don't know what else
I can do."  Gushie watched as Al's face started to go red.  Gushie had
no idea what was coming, but he knew he was going to see Al angrier
than he had ever believed he could be.  He closed his eyes, praying for
a miracle.

     "Admiral Calavicci--Gushie."  The female voice came from
everywhere at once.  Ziggy's processing devoted a small portion to
speaking finally, still trying to understand exactly what she had
sensed from her creator when he was speaking to the bartender...who was
apparently God.  All she was sure was that Sam had chosen to fix
something else.  And that he was about to go there to do it.  The odds
of losing him had just jumped another 10 percent.
     "ZIGGY!" Al screamed.  "Thank God!  Open the Imaging Door NOW!" 
He ran for the door, hope lighting his eyes as he went to save his
friend one more time.  He reached the door and nearly ran into it,
expecting it to already have opened for him.  "Ziggy," he called out,
"if you get temperamental on me right now I swear to God I will replace
your ego with that of Michael Bolton.  Now don't cross me--just open
the damn door!" 
    "I'm sorry, Admiral.  I cannot."  Gushie stared all over again,
quite sure he heard tears in the computer-generated voice.  "Sam
Beckett has just leaped.  I will have to re-locate him."
    Al turned around, shaking his head as he slumped against the
gleaming, blue metal door.  "He can't have leaped.  He can't have. 
That means he fell for it.  Oh,'re wrong this time."  Al's
voice rose, as he spoke to the ether, his voice trying to reach his
friend through time and space and whatever caused the leaps.  "Sam--you
can't see it.  You wanted the answers so many times, and
when they gave them, you leaped for them, just like you've leaped every
other time."  Al's face was streaming tears.  Gushie stood there,
unable to understand the situation, but wishing he could find some way
to help.  
    "Sam," Al whispered softly, "he wasn't God.  GOD IS NOT A
BARTENDER!"  Al's body began shaking, sobs overcoming him.  Gushie
wondered what that comment could possibly mean.


    "I'm going to tell you a story,"  Sam Beckett said.  The woman he
was talking to, Beth, was the Admiral's wife.  Ziggy watched as she
always did, timelines changing with every word her creator spoke.  Just
once, she wanted to be able to interact with him.  Just once, she
wanted to let him know she was THERE, all the time, RIGHT BESIDE HIM.
    But interacting with the past was impossible for her--except
through Al, who was so frustrating sometimes and who had a tendecy to
abuse her equipment.  Al thought it was hard for HIM to watch Sam,
unable to help him in any physical way.  It was worse, still, for
her--she could not even whisper to the man who had created her.  It was
so upsetting that sometimes she wished she were dead, or deprogrammed,
or memory erased or whatever it was that would kill her awareness. 
Sometimes she wished she's stopped Sam from leaping, whatever it would
have taken.  Sometimes she thought the only way she could had stopped
him would have been to kill him before he started--or during that first
terrible leap.

     Ziggy spent a great deal of time thinking of different theories. 
Sam had created her that way.

    "Al's alive, Beth.  And he's coming home."  Sam sat down next to
Beth, and took her hands.  She began to cry as Sam changed history one
more time, saving his best friend's marriage as he couldn't do before. 
Ziggy was proud of him, as she always was, proud of the way her
father gave himself selflessly over and over again.
    What he forgot--what he was never allowed to remember--was that
people in the future needed him too.  He was never allowed to remember
Donna, had forgotten Sammy Jo as well.  The past needed him to fix
it--but the future needed him as well.
    The future needed him more than anyone else knew.  Anyone except
her.  For she had looked into FUTURE years of Sam Beckett's lifetime as
well.  That was one of the few perks of being connected this way. 
She'd never told anyone what she saw there--doing so had a 98% chance
of making it worse--but she was quite aware that without Sam coming
home, Project Quantum Leap, his wife, his daughter and nearly everyone
he loved were all in grave danger.

If Sam didn't come home, the world was doomed.  

     Of course, Ziggy suddenly realized, perhaps that was why God had
materialized for Sam--so that he would be ready to come home when
things went bad, so that he had the ability and the knowledge to return
to the future and stop the destruction she saw there.  Maybe she
shouldn't be worried about this leap at all.
     That didn't change the amount of processing speed she was spending
trying to understand why the chance of losing Sam's signal in time
forever had just risen to 96%.  

    Beth closed her eyes, tears streaming from them as Sam spoke to
her.  "Al's going to be here in no time at all," he said.  "All you
have to do is believe."  Beth laughed, suddenly, her face smiling as if
her life depended on it.  
    Ziggy tried once more to reach through, to tell Sam that it was HE
who's life depended on this--that by telling Beth the truth, he had
added nearly 22% total to the chance that Ziggy would no longer be able
to find him in time.
    As always, it wasn't enough.  It was time to alert Al to what was
happening, she decided--even if it made it worse, he had to do
something.  She turned on her microphones in the future--and heard Al
screaming about a mistake, about someone lying and tricking him.  Could
that be?  Ziggy had forgotten to check that possibility--she had
believed as Sam had, that the bartender was the person--Time, Fate,
God, whatever--responsible for Sam's leaping through time.  She ran a
quick calculation, and the answer terrified her.  The percentage for
the idea that Sam had been tricked matched the percentage for losing
Sam's signal in time--exactly.  And both numbers were less that 2
percent from 100.  Even with her ego, she realized she might well have
made a costly mistake.

Date:  April 1, 1999

     "Admiral--I am opening the Imaging Door."  Al looked up, startled,
as Ziggy's voice reappeared.  "You are correct in your
thoughts--Sam has been tricked.  I am not sure how or why, but you must
tell Sam this and you must do it now."  Al leaped to his feet,
heading for the door.  "Admiral--before you go in, however, there is
something you need to know."  
     "Forget it, Ziggy--just open the door."  Al looked taller, now, as
his chance to save Sam was regained.
     "Admiral--Sam is talking to Beth right now.  He's saving your
marriage this time."  Al looked blank, then stunned.  "I felt you
should be ready for the situation."

The door began to open.  Al squared his shoulders.


     Ziggy watched Sam kiss Beth on the cheek.  Beth was denying his
reality, afraid it was a dream somehow.  Ziggy knew how she felt--she
too was afraid this was a dream, even though she'd never experienced
one before.  She knew the definition of a nightmare, however, and this
certainly fit such definition perfectly.

98.9 percent and rising. 

Ziggy hoped she hadn't taken too long warning Al.

Date:  April 1, 1999

     Al watched the door rising impatiently.  WHY was it moving so
slowly?  Al had never in his life been this scared about Sam.  When
the shock treatment in one leap had split Sam's mind, Al was terrified.
 This feeling inside him was a million times worse.  If he didn't get
in that room, Sam was going to die.  Al could just feel it.  He
couldn't explain why or how--but he knew that everything that had
happened to Sam since leaping into his birthday had been a sham.  Al
couldn't understand his gut reactions, but he had always trusted them
in the past, and he wasn't about to change that pattern now.  The door
opened, and Al stepped inside.


    Sam Beckett felt the softness of Beth's cheek as he kissed her.  He
was glad for what he was doing, so glad he could finally give Al
his wife back.  It was wrong that he hadn't done it before.  He could
have, if he had tried hard enough.  He knew that, now.

After all, God had told him.

    Beth smiled at him, and started to say something.  At that moment,
however, all hell broke loose.  Her face distorted, warped, melted into
something else.  Sam blanched, fear racing through him.  He'd seen this
happen before.
    It happened any time he touched another leaper.  He started to
react, only to feel something else happen he recognized.  No, Sam
thought desperately, God, No!  Sam panicked,
trying to stop it long enough for him to understand what was happening
here.  But as always, he had no control.  Sam Beckett was
    The other leaper, a black man who reminded Sam of Al somehow, began
to laugh.  And then Sam saw nothing else but blue.

Date:  April 1, 1999

    Ziggy screamed, internally and through every speaker in Project
Quantum Leap.  In her head, she watched the percentage:  it read 100
percent.  And it was not changing.  She had lost Sam Beckett.

    Al Calavicci closed his eyes as the images began to circle around
him.  He was saving Sam and then devoting himself to getting him home. 
This was not something he was going to stand for any longer--regardless
of what some con artist God wanna-be tried to tell Sam.  Nothing would
stop Al--not God or Fate or Time or any other damn thing.

And that was when he felt it.  

     Deep inside, something went wrong.  He could tell, without a
doubt, that Sam had made the mistake.  He had done what he
shouldn't--had changed what was not supposed to change. He had failed. 

    Al had also failed.  When he best friend needed him most, he had
failed to be there.  Sam Beckett had died alone, forever, without
seeing those he loved.  And Al knew exactly what that felt like--lost,
alone, and with no hope of ever coming home.
    "Honey?  Have you put the burgers on the grill yet?"  Al opened his
eyes and saw his wife, Beth, coming out the back door of their suburban

     "Oh, honey," Beth chuckled.  "You didn't fall asleep AGAIN, did
you?"  She grinned as she walked over to the grill.  "I swear, you're
getting to be a complete log in your later years.  Well, at least the
charcoal's still going
hot.  Come on, dear, let's get ready for the kids."
    Al got up from the hammock, and stretched.  Man, he had fallen
asleep hard.  He'd had some really strange dream, too.  Something about
a man named...Beckett?
    "What about Beckett, dear?" Beth looked at Al curiously.
     Al realized he had said the name aloud.  "Oh, nothing, really," he
muttered.  "I just had this dream about a man named Sam Beckett."
    "How funny!  You dreamt about an existential playwright."  Beth
grabbed Al's hands and lifted them to the sky.  "My
husband, friend to the greats in his dreams."  She giggled, and he
joined in, stepping close to his wife of so many years.
    She wriggled gently against him, and he smiled.  "How long do
burgers take?" he said softly.  She turned and kissed him on the
mouth, her tongue slipping inside.  Around their kiss, she murmured,
"Long enough."  Then they spoke no more.


    Sammy Jo Fuller watched, interested, at the computer monitor before
her.  Just minutes ago, there had been a spike in the data, a huge
change in the timelines that this project devoted itself to fixing. 
Far larger than any of the revisions they were currently doing should
have caused.  She turned to her supervisor, a man named Gushie.  She
hated talking to him at all, because of the terrible breath he always
     "Gushie?  Could you come look at this, please?"  Gushie came over
and Sammy Jo showed him the spike in the data.
     "Interesting," was all he said.  Man, she hated him.  Not only did
his breath smell, but he was a complete and total nozzle as well.  "You
will vacate your seat while I examine this," he said to her.  "I am
sure that you have calculated the information incorrectly."  He
practically shoved her out of her seat, pushing her with his hands. 
She stumbled and almost fell over, her head dropping below the computer
table here in the Control Room.

That was when she noticed something very interesting.  

     Underneath the table was a cigar end, burning brightly.  This was
a non-smoking where did that come from?  And why hadn't
she smelled the smoke--she was allergic to smoke, and always knew when
it was around her.
     Was it part of the change--part of the spike in the timeline she
had just read on the monitor?  How could that possibly be?  Intrigued
beyond herself, she grabbed the cigar and quickly doused it in a coffee
cup full of water she always had with her.  She looked to see if Gushie
had seen it, but apparently he was too engrossed in the data.
     Trying to think how she could research the timeline implications
of a burning cigar, Sammy Jo Fuller pocketed the enigma, and walked out
the door for a break.  It was too hard for her to watch Gushie. 
Because if for some reason she HAD miscalculated data, it would hurt
her chances. That was something she didn't need.

Not when she was about to solve the biggest mystery of all time and
save the world in the process.