"Pieces" pt. XIV May, 2002 Stallion's Gate, NM "Dr. Beckett." Nothing. "Dr. Beckett." A little more insistance this time. Still nothing. "Sam?" Donna sat up, relenting to the computer's call, and shook her husband's shoulder. "What?" he mumbled. "Ziggy's calling," she responded, rolling him over onto his back. "Come on, Sam." "What do you want, Zig?" he asked without opening his eyes. "What time is it?" "It's 4:30 and you're needed in the Control Room." "Oh, really?" he asked, rolling back onto his side despite his wife's sound of protest. "Is it on fire?" "Yes." Sam's eyes snapped open. "_What_?" Even he couldn't say if he was startled into wakefulness by the ridiculous notion that Ziggy was telling the truth or the incredulity over the lie. "Ah, good, you're awake," she responded, caressing every word. "Yeah," he agreed reluctantly. "Now what is it, Ziggy?" "I...don't know. Gooshie wants you in the Control Room." By this point, Sam was pulling himself out of bed. "Did he say _why_?" "No," she responded with a pout. He turned to his wife. "You coming?" "Ziggy didn't call _me_," she said with a grin. He grinned back. "Fink." Sam dressed quickly and proceeded towards the Control Room where Gooshie met him with his usual anxious nature heightened by whatever this problem was. "What is it, Gooshie?" he asked, sipping a cup of coffee he had grabbed from the cafeteria on the way, still on a quest to wake up. "I - I don't know," he stammered, worried and upset. "I got a wake-up call from her and, well, nothing's working like it's supposed to be working. Inter- project communications are fine, but if I try and call out, it all goes wrong. And there's more...data indicates something happened last night. It's probably what caused all this, but we don't know what it was." Sam took the print-outs from Gooshie and flipped through them. "Well...let's start from scratch. Let's do a diagnostic and find out exactly what's working and what's not. Then we can go from there. Sound good?" The morning passed slowly as Sam and Gooshie evaluated the systems of Project Quantum Leap one at at time. Once Donna got up and helped, things moved a little faster, but answers were not produced at any great rate. Deciding to let Al sleep, he refrained from seeking his friend out. This wasn't anything they couldn't handle without him. It was early afternoon before the first major clue came up. "Sam," Donna called from across the room. "I may have something." She called over the two scientists and, with a flourish, she presented her data. "These are the logs. Now, about 45 minutes before the systems went down, look at what was recorded." Sam shifted the paper around to face him. "Oh, no," he groaned. "What?" Gooshie asked, reaching for the papers himself. "Someone leaped," Donna announced as Sam examined the printouts. "It was Melana," Sam clarified. "And...how did she find out about this?" "_What_?" Gooshie demanded in an uncharacteristic display of impatience. "She did a pinpoint leap." He looked up and saw that the other two already knew what was coming. He finished it anyhow. "Into April, 2002, Santa Fe, New Mexico." Donna sighed. "What a mess," she said. "Maybe that had something to do with these problems," Gooshie suggested. "The Accelerator takes up a lot of energy and if it wasn't done properly..." Donna shook her head. "Melana would know what she was doing. And at that hour, there's not a chance that a lot of work was being done elsewhere in the project." Sam dropped the papers on a console. "Well, I'll check the Accelerator." "Doctor?" Gooshie asked tentatively. Sam paused and turned to face him. "The Imaging Chamber is one of the systems offline," he informed him. Sam pursed his lips and nodded. "We'll make that top priority. Why don't you and Donna get started on that. And I'll go hunt out Al in a minute, after I check this out." He left them to their separate projects, his wife watching him as he went. Donna turned back to her work when she heard the cry from the Accelerator. "Sam?" she called, running to the open door. She caught herself on the door jam and gasped at the sight. "Get Verbena!" Sam cried as he bent over Al's body. "Is it...?" "Go!" Sam yelled. Al was in a Fermi suit, which explained it all: his presence in the Accelerator, and the problems with Ziggy. Two people leaping within an hour's time would certainly have been too much. "Al...why did you do it, huh?" he asked, torn. "You were doing so well. A week ago I was looking for this, maybe, but not now..." "Well, you know me. I'm always a little late for everything," Al said in quiet tones. Sam looked down at him, amazed. "Al! No, don't move. Are you okay? How could you _do_ this?" Al put a hand to his head. "I don't know whether to hug you or hit you," Sam continued, obviously ready to do both. "Neither, please," Al groaned. "I ache all over." Anger dissolved into concern and he reached down to help Al into a sitting position. "If you had bothered to check the logs before trying this, you could have saved yourself the trouble," Sam pointed out, still scolding. Al wrapped his hand around Sam's elbow and Sam pulled him up, a little too quickly. "What do you mean?" he asked, trying not to show how dizzy he felt. "I mean Melana leaped. Into Jenna." "What?! I've got to talk to her!" Sam shook his head, still holding onto Al. "Nope. No dice. Thanks to your attempt at leaping, half of Ziggy's systems are down. The Imaging Chamber is one of the casualties." "Great." Al took a deep breath. Why was everything so cloudy? He could barely see straight. "Yeah," Sam agreed. "Come on. We've got to get you down to the Infirmary and check you out." "Yeah," Al echoed. "Make sure my foot is still attached to my leg, all that kind of stuff." "Not funny, Al. You could have been killed!" "Well I wasn't," he snapped, then sighed. "I had to try, Sam, you understand that, don't you? I didn't have a choice." Sam moved to a squatting position, turning as Donna re-entered the room, Verbena on her heels. "Yeah," he murmured, staring at her, "I understand." Al let out a relieved breath. Sam moved to help him to his feet, but he pulled himself free of Sam's grasp, deciding it would probably be less embarassing in the long run to admit to his dizziness than to collapse at their feet. "Sam, just let me sit here a few seconds longer," he said. Sam wasn't fooled. "What's wrong?" Verbena bent down next to him as he sighed again and admitted, "I'm kinda dizzy; everything's spinning around." "And?" Al glared. "And my vision's kinda fuzzy, too. _And_," he continued before Sam could say anything more, "that's all." Verbena stood and helped Sam haul Al to his feet and into a chair someone had brought in. "You just sit there a moment. We'll try and save you the disgrace of rolling out on a gurney, even if you do deserve it." The admiral looked gratefully at her. "I'll be fine in a minute," he said. She cast him a reproving look before exiting the room. Then he turned to look at Sam. "Hey, Sam?" The scientist lifted a panel on the far side of the room with the thought that if he could tell where the trouble had started, maybe he could fix it. "Yeah?" Al paused, then cleared his throat. "Where am I?" he asked. "Sam, it's probably just temporary," Verbena said quietly. "I shoulda stopped him," Sam muttered. "I _tried_ earlier. He gave me back the Fermi suit; I don't know how he got hold of another." She grinned slightly. "Knowing Al, he probably already had another one." He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Yeah. Well," he added in a more business-like tone, "we know leaping plays havok with the memory engrams, so there's just no telling, is there? I mean, he remembers me, so it can't be as bad off as I was." "He remembers a lot, Sam. There are just a few holes here and there, a few people he doesn't remember, a few events that are foggy. Just give it a little time." She cocked her head at him. "Besides, remember, in a few hours' time, it may be a moot point." He raised his eyebrows in question. "Where did you get that idea?" She crossed her arms and leaned back against the table-top. "Why did he try to leap?" Sam grunted. "Why do you _think_? To save..." He trailed off and then looked up at her. "I wish I could contact Melana." Verbena smiled again, voice cool and collected. "If she did as thorough a job of reasearching as I suspect, she knows all she needs to." "Yeah, if it didn't get swiss-cheesed." She fixed him with another penetrating gaze. "How much did you remember when you leaped back in to save Al's life after you got home?" He paused and then smiled, an ironic glint in his eyes. "I don't remember." She laughed lightly. "Well I do. Al kept very extensive records on his talks with you, you know?" "And how much did I remember?" She tilted her head up slightly. "Enough."