Pt. I
     His wife (how nice did that sound!) slept soundly beside him as he 
maneuvered the slick black SUV under the gentle instruction of the woman 
(*Mom? Do I call her Mom?*) in the backseat crooning softly to the babies. 
Sam quickly feigned exhaustion to account for his mysterious "lapse of 
memory" regarding their destination. The truck hummed patiently in the 
intersection. Silently, he prayed that they were going home to closed doors 
and quiet. He could already see himself folding back the thick spread of 
some rich comforter and finding Utopia between the sheets. And maybe some 
     Glancing into the rearview mirror, Sam caught a pair of empathic blue 
eyes staring back at him. Locks of chocolate brown hair framed a face that 
was strangely boyish and handsome at the same time. He tilted his host's 
head slightly to admire his strong jaw line and the faint cleft in his chin. 
Pulling the heart-shaped lips back in a smile, he noted that the upper row 
of teeth were interrupted by the tiniest hint of a gap...and that the woman 
who had called him ~mijo~ was watching this with great amusement. The light 
turned green. He flashed her an embarrassed grin and proceeded right
     *Wow, I'm in California again...~again~?*
     A delicious breeze kicked up and bowed the leaves of the palms that 
seemed to be lined endlessly on both sides of the street. The small colorful 
houses cloistered behind iron gates reminded him of Easter eggs dotting 
parched lawns. Virginia Avenue. He began piloting the car automatically, the 
pauses, stops and sights seeming familiar to him. The wheels of the Suburban 
turned smoothly over the gravel of a circular drive and cruised to a stop in 
front of a Spanish style two-story home overflowing with flowers.
     "~Estamos aqui, nina,~ " the woman murmured, gently rousing his wife. 
She mumbled something sleepily in return, pushing her gloriously thick mane 
from her face. Sam watched as it tumbled over her shoulder like a dark wave, 
stirring something warm and desired in him. He jumped out and rushed around 
to her side, bending low and making a grand gesture of sweeping his arm out 
as he opened her door.
     "~Papa!~" she sang out, gazing over his shoulder. He straightened up 
quickly and turned. In the archway of the entrance, a man stood rigid with 
his arms folded over a crisp dark blue uniform. "Papa" had Sam fixed in his 
unblinking hawk-like stare.
     "~Mi princesa.~" He strode briskly toward them, favoring his daughter 
with a what was probably a rare and treasured smile, nearly brushing Sam 
     "Yeah, nice to see you, too," the time traveler muttered as he watched 
the man, who without a doubt was either still enlisted or retired from the 
service, help the young mother carefully to her feet. Just grazing the top 
of Sam's chin, her father stood at least 5"10' and wiry. He gathered that 
the officer was probably somewhere in his 60's...and still capable of doing 
some damage to those who didn't make nice.
     He cradled each baby in his arms, looking them over keenly before 
grunting with approval and passing them on to the women. Sam felt the 
intense gaze of his young bride settling on him. He met the liquid caramel 
eyes timidly, his knees threatening to buckle under their gravity. He was 
supposed to say something. He didn't know what.
     "~Es...un placer a encontrarse Usted, uh...Capitan.~"
     That was a mistake. The man glared at him coolly. From behind Sam, the 
older woman tittered.
     "Bring in the rest of these things," he ordered in crisp, sharp 
English. Wrapping an arm around his daughter, they started towards the house 
with the sleeping blue bundle. She cast a long look over her shoulder at 
Sam, one that felt low and simmering.
     "~No te preocupas.~" There was the warm and sympathetic hand of the 
older woman on his arm. Her brown eyes danced mirthfully from a face that 
had probably never known frowning. She had high cheekbones and fashionably 
short crimson red hair that was once as black as onyx. Like her daughter's. 
The resemblance between them was so striking, Sam wondered why he hadn't 
noticed right away.
     His mother-in-law chuckled lightly, rocking his newborn girl in her 
arms. "The Colonel is happy to see you too, Noah."
*		*		*		*		*		*	        *
     "Admiral, Dr. Beckett has Leaped."
     Al slowly peeled open one eye and glared in the direction of the 
sensuously deceptive purr. It would be just like Ziggy to wait until the 
exact moment his last nerve unwound and he was welcoming sleep to make an 
announcement. Or at times when he had money riding on a tied game that was 
trickling down to a few precious seconds. Or when he was...entertaining.
     He was still in a mood about having his No Fly Zone rescinded after the 
hybrid computer managed to link every tiny little malfunction, 
miscalculation or burst of mayhem to the Observer's slight "tweaking" of the 
communications program. The Project Quantum Leap Board of Review had quickly 
and unanimously agreed that Al would just have to grin and bear the invasion 
of privacy like everyone else. In the same speed that they had come to their 
decision, Al had also prepared a few choice words.
     He let his legs dangle over the side of the small bed for a while, 
impatiently exhaling an angry stream of air. It was his own fault he 
couldn't eat, sleep other things like a normal man. It was this 
damn Leap Time, though. It was really becoming a drag.
     *Well, enough whining, let's get cracking!* he scolded silently, 
dragging his weary bones out of the bed.
     His mammoth closet consisted of the entire length of one wall in which 
he meticulously hung and folded each item of clothing with care. His eyes 
scanned the dizzying array of aquas, fire engine reds, kiwi limes and his 
personal ode to metallica. Al reached into a compartment nearly buried 
behind his favorite After 5 ensembles, or what Sam with affectionate 
loathing referred to as his "zoot suits." He came away with a simple cream 
colored sweater and after a bit more rooting, found a pair of denim blue 
jeans and some comfortable loafers. He pulled all this on over his flannel 
pjs and tousled his hair a bit w/his fingers.
     There was an excited buzz of conversation from the conference room, 
white lab coats twisting this way and that. They were like little kids on 
Show & Tell Day at school. Everyone was either trumpeting their department's 
latest triumph or sulking in its failure, but each trying to outtalk the 
other, vying for importance. Al managed to slip in quietly, allowing his 
eyes to rove about.
     *No ~Tina.~* A brief flash of anger lit his face. Dually noted was the 
absence of the resident shrink, probably pulling an inquisition on her 
latest victim.
     "Your attention please." There was a swift pounding of the gavel at the 
head of the table…if round tables even had ~heads.~ Talk dissipated like the 
air from a balloon. People quickly found their seats and fumbled around with 
their Digi-EAR. A few -the PQL "dinosaurs"-- even rustled up pens and 
notepads and got themselves poised to scribble.
     "'Leap: L.A. Confidential' will now come to order." A few snickers rose 
from the table. Some wiseguy was always submitting smart-alecky suggestions 
for meeting names. Mr. (or Ms.) Anonymous had yet to come clean.
     "Order," the Director of Staff repeated a little more firmly. "We will 
begin briefing led by Ziggy."
     A low and gentle hum filled the room as if the hybrid computer were 
beaming in recognition. ~Smirking~ was probably more like it. "She" loved 
the sound of her name almost half as much as hearing herself talk.
     "It appears that Dr. Beckett has Leaped in the year 1998, the month of 
April, on a Saturday. His host is Noah Gabriel Jung, Caucasian, 
approximately 22-26 years in age, six feet and four inches, 210 pounds, 
married and residing in Long Beach, California. His employment is not yet 
known and Mr. Jung is unable to recall what he was doing or his whereabouts 
during the exact moment of the Leap process." There was a short and 
exaggerative breath here. "As a side note, he speaks fluent Spanish, played 
left wing defense for his high school hockey team, and calls his mother at 
least twice a sweet."
     Al rolled his eyes and as if sensing this, Ziggy continued smoothly, 
unperturbed. "And no, Admiral, the cause of this Leap has not been 
established, though I am sure Dr. Beeks would not mind your assistance in 
the Waiting Room..."
     He suddenly felt the shift of some 15 pairs of eyes on him.
     Gushie had barely recognized the blur that sped past him as Al 
Calavicci when he heard the distinctive bark of the older man to fire up the 
Imaging Chamber ~post haste.~