Part III

New York, NY
February, 2000

Sam's credit cards didn't work and so, now, with limited cash (and a bank 
card he couldn't remember the PIN for), he not only had to worry about where 
his life was, but how to find it on...$20 and a couple pictures...

Sam sat up in bed in the cheapest room he'd been able to find and fumbled 
for the wallet. Sure enough, the picture of Al and him was still there; at 
least that supported his plea of sanity. He desperately wanted to show it to 
Al, but he was afraid to do so - wouldn't that just have the same effect as 
telling him? If Al knew the could destroy everything.

Sam had lain awake most of the night thinking and sorting things out. If his 
never meeting Al meant that Project Quantum Leap never came into existence, 
then it stood to reason that he had a life somewhere out there that was his. 
Which meant he still had to be leaping. Plus the changes he'd made hadn't 
been changed back, obviously, so Donna still had to be out there.

If all that was true, however, the cards in his wallet would still be 
working, and he, Sam Beckett, had to have come to New York for a reason. No, 
PQL must have been created, but with someone else, which meant he was still 
leaping, just as himself, and there was still something he had to put right. 
By the same token, it hadn't presented itself and he couldn't go wandering 
around for weeks hoping the project found him or that the problem found him.

Was this how it was going to be from now on? Was this what the bartender 
meant when he said the leaps were going to get harder? He didn't know if he 
could live with that possibility.

He strained to remember names and numbers, but most of them eluded him. 
Those that didn't ended up being dead ends and strings of hopelessness that 
he clutched blindly at, then gave up on. If he was going to find his life, 
he knew, he'd need help. He had to operate on that assumption until he had 
evidence to the contrary, and there was only one man he knew of who could 
help him. It was the one person who, should he have to start over, he'd 
still want there. Sam bit his lip and pulled out the phone book, looking up 
Al's number. He lifted the phone and dialed: it was 10 AM Saturday morning - 
Al was sure to be up by now.


It had to be Beth. Sam smiled faintly, remembering as she'd wept when he 
told her Al was alive. He wished he'd been able to see her when he came 
home. "Is Al Calavicci available?" he asked, trying to hold back the 
irrational fear that Al wouldn't want to talk to him.

"May I ask who's calling?" she countered pleasantly.

"Uh, tell him this is Sam." There was a startled pause and Sam wondered how 
much Al had told her.

"One minute."

Sam ran a hand across his face anxiously. How was he going to ask a total 
stranger to help him? But, stranger or not, this man was still the same at 
heart - Sam could see it when he'd looked at him the day before.

"This is unexpected," Al said evenly. He was trying to be nonchalant, and 

Sam swallowed, realizing he hadn't really thought through how he was going 
to do this. "I'm sorry to bother you, but I need to talk to you."

Al hesitated, suspicious against his better judgment. "You left yesterday 
before I had a chance to talk to you," he stated, even though he'd been the 
initial one to try and end the conversation. Obviously, his sense of 
curiosity was still in tact as well. Sam had left the meeting in tears, 
though: that was bound to raise a few questions.

"I know, I'm... I'm sorry, I just-" He paused, trying to find the right 
words. The truth was, he just hadn't been able to take it - looking for a 
bond that wasn't there. "I'm having some difficulties right now and I need 
your help, if you're willing."

Al wasn't quite sold yet and, still hedging his bets, he cleared his throat. 
"How about we meet somewhere and you can tell me your story?"

It was still more than Sam could've hoped for. "Where do we meet?"

February, 2000
New York City, NY

Al glanced up as Sam slid into the booth across from him and found himself 
smiling sympathetically. This kid just had one of those faces you could 
trust right off the bat and he still had that sharp sorrow behind his eyes, 
that hurt puppy look. Al found himself more troubled by it
than he'd expected to be.

"Hi," Sam said softly, rubbing his eyes. He looked as if he'd had a 
sleepless night and Al wondered where he'd had it.

Al gestured to the small diner around them. "Nice, huh?" he asked the 
younger man, trying to put him at ease. "My wife and I got in the habit of 
meeting here for lunch when my youngest waitressed here one summer."

Sam looked up sharply and Al thought for a precarious moment he was going to 
pass out. "I'm sorry, what?" he asked tensely in tones that confirmed that 
he'd heard Al just fine.

Al frowned at him. "Are you okay?"

"You have children?" Sam asked as if Al had just told him he'd had breakfast 
with the Queen of England. It wasn't such an unusual thing, having children 
- what was up with this kid, anyhow?

"Yes," Al confirmed slowly, watching Sam pale. "Are you sure you're okay? 
Maybe we should get you some water, or..."

Sam waved him away, finally seeming to recover himself. "How many?"

Now he hesitated: why would this guy need to know that? "I have four 

To Al's utter amazement, Sam began to laugh. "You don't... Are you serious?"

Al was beginning to feel affronted and somewhat lost in the significance of 
that statement. "You know me, don't you?"

That sobered him up considerably, but there was still a joyous smile that 
tugged at the corner of his mouth periodically. "You could say that." He 
grinned. "I'll bet you make a great father," he stated with absolute 
certainty, touching Al's arm lightly.

Al brushed aside the compliment and studied his face intently, still not 
finding anything familiar about his features. With a heavy breath, he pulled 
the conversation back where he wanted it to go. "I'm sorry, I still don't 
remember you. Where did we meet?"

That effectively wiped away any sign of glee. "We met...some time ago," Sam 
said quietly, picking at his napkin. The waitress brought him a glass of 
water and he picked it up, downing half the glass in seconds.

"I don't even know your name. Well, not your last name, anyhow."

Sam locked his gaze on the crescent-shaped ice cubes clinking against the 
glass in his hand. "It's Beckett. Sam Beckett." Al again felt a slight 
pressure on his skin and this time looked pointedly at Sam, who jerked his 
hand back abruptly, as if he'd been caught doing something he hadn't meant 
to do.

"Beckett," Al repeated curiously. Interestingly enough, the name did sound 
familiar, but he couldn't quite grasp why... Not through personal 
communications, he was sure, but he did know the name. There had been some 
kid, born in farm country, who was supposed to be a genius. Was in all the 
magazines, then he vanished for a long while until making the papers one 
last time about five years back. Sam ran a hand through his hair and the 
white lock fell over his forehead, catching Al's eye. He narrowed his gaze. 
"You share the name with someone else, but you can't be him." The words were 
certain, but the tone was not.

"What do you mean?" Sam asked halfheartedly.

"There was some farm boy prodigy with that name. I remember reading about 

Something like relief crossed Sam's face. "That's me. Elk Ridge, Indiana," 
he added as a confirmation key.

Al's expression became, if possible, more focused. "No, you can't be him," 
he insisted stubbornly. "He died five years back."

"What?!" The water glass tipped as he jumped, spilling ice and chilled 
liquid all over the table and onto himself. He stood up to avoid the water 
still cascading over the edge and Al reached for the napkins.

"Take it easy, willya? You're making me jumpy," Al said with forced calm as 
he wiped up the mess. "It's just water."

But Sam wasn't even listening. "What do you mean he died? I'm not dead!"

"Well, he disappeared and no-one ever heard from him again," Al corrected. 
"His business partner is now in Congress and... He'd been missing so long 
that they had him declared dead and..."

"Declared dead?" Sam demanded. "Now there's irony for you!"

Al shook his head. Things were getting out of control and he wasn't making 
any sense. "Calm down and have a seat," he said firmly. He half expected Sam 
to continue arguing or storm out; he'd seen that look before - kid couldn't 
take what he was being told. Instead, Sam reclaimed his seat and cradled his 
head in his hands. "Are you telling me you're this guy?"

"Yes. I can't find my family - I don`t know how to get in touch with them, 
or my wife. Al...I need your help."

"Where have you been for the past five years?" Al demanded. "And how do you 
know me?"

"Where have I been?" The words were bitter. "I've been...I don't remember." 
Something about the statement didn't feel right and Al wondered why he was 
being lied to.

"Well, maybe _you've_ got amnesia, but I certainly don't. Are you going to 
tell me how you know me?"

The hopelessness was back. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

"Why don't you let me be the judge of that?" he pressed. Sam didn't answer, 
squeezing his eyes shut, then, without thinking, Al blurted the words, 
"You're lost," softly, sadly.


His voice cracked and Al wondered if he was crying again. "What are you 
trying to find?"

Sam looked up and his face was dry, but his expression was torn. "Something 
I gave up. But I don't want to hurt anyone getting it back."

Al shook his head as if trying to clear it. "You're talking in riddles."

Sam sighed. "I know."

"You do know where you've been the last five years, don't you?" Al 
questioned, trying to pull something concrete from the conversation.

"Yes and no. I've been...away, and I don't know what's happened while I was 
gone. I'm..." He shrugged. "I'm lost."

"So you need to find someone who knows you," Al stated for confirmation. If 
he was going to help, he needed to know what he was helping with.

Sam's eyes held a glimmer of hope. "If I could find out...if this project 
was ever created..."

Now he was lost again. Patiently, he asked, "What project?"

"My project," Sam stated clearly. "Can you help me with something?"

Al took a long sip of his water, buying time to think. "Depends on what it 

"My family...they've all moved or something; I can't find them. It's been 
five years and I can't remember where they all lived or who to call who 
could find them for me." Sam bit his lip and Al could see it was 
important...whatever it was. "My brother...he was in the Navy. At least, he 
was back in `70. I don't know about now. His name is Thomas Eugene Beckett; 
can you see if you can find him for me?"

Now, Al was sure, he had him. Caught in a lie, a slip-up. "If you've only 
been gone five years, how is it you don't remember him past 30 years ago?"

Sam's brow furrowed in thought. "I can't remember what happened after we - 
I...saw him then," he fumbled.

Al made a mental note of the verbal correction and leaned back. "That's all 
you want me to do?"

Sam leaned forward, his hands spread on the table top. "Please - I just need 
help getting my life back. I have noplace else to turn."

Al stared into his eyes, the innocent trust, and realized that Sam _knew_, 
somehow, that he wouldn't turn him away. He rolled his shoulders to erase 
the chill that was creeping up his spine. "I'll see what I can do. And where 
did you say you knew me from again?"

Sam broke the connection, dropping his gaze. "Another life."