(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."