April, 2000
New York City, NY

Al stared at the ceiling, reflecting. He seemed to have a lot of time
for that, lately, especially seeing as sleep didn't come easily anymore.
It had been a long month - for him and for Beth (mainly because she'd
had to deal with him), and he wasn't sure the coming months were going
to be much better.

The project was drawing to an alarmingly fast close, due mostly to the
amount of data downloaded from Ziggy's memory banks. Once the specifics
of Sam's brain child had been picked apart to the core, half of their
studies would be shut down. He sighed and rolled over onto his side,
closing his eyes.

He was tired; why couldn't he sleep?!

Every night was like this and, aside from being annoying and
frustrating, it was starting to worry Beth. The phone rang suddenly and
he flinched, startled. He reached for it after the first ring had died
away, but it never rang a second time. *Beth must've got it,* he thought
to himself and rolled over onto his opposite side.

He was getting so tired of staring at the same four walls. He was
getting tired of it all, but he didn't know what to do.

He laid there a moment longer, then sat up and slipped on his robe and
opened the door slightly, standing in the sliver of light that stabbed
into the darkness. Beth was standing in front of the coffee table, phone
in hand.

"No, Jeremy, he just went to bed and I'm not going to wake him up so you
can yell about something twelve hours sooner." She sighed deeply and sat
on the couch, her back to the bedroom. "He'll call you first thing in
the morning, okay?... I don't know if he's looked over the reports yet
or not - Jeremy-" She stopped frustrated. "First thing, I know. From the
_office_. Goodnight." She hung up the phone, shaking her head, and then
leaned back heavily against the cushions.

He advanced into the room. "Is it important?" he asked and she gasped
and turned quickly.

"Al, you scared me." Her expression softened. "Did the phone wake you?"

"No. I couldn't sleep," he replied and sat down next to her.

She looked sympathetically at him. "Again?" He shrugged. "It was nothing
important; Jeremy just wanted to discuss a couple of the newer committee
members with you, especially the one that replaced Gerald. I told him it
could wait."


She nodded slowly and he tried to ignore the way she was studying him.
He hated it when she turned motherly on him. "Here, at least lie down,"
she instructed and he gazed at her, then shook his head, smiling
slightly. "Humor me," she persisted.

His soft chuckle communicated that he was doing just that as he
stretched out across her lap, then exhaled contentedly. The only thing
he hated more than her mothering him was when she was right to do so. "I
wanted to thank you for being so patient with me lately," he said after
a long moment and she smiled and tipped her head to the side, resting it
against the back of the couch.

"You know I don't mind."

He stifled a yawn and closed his eyes. His head rested against the
cushion at the end of the couch, but he could feel the warmth of her
against his torso, and it felt good. It felt like...home and comfort and
familiarity. He felt her fingers brush his face and the sleep that had
so constantly eluded him earlier started to descend. "I know," he
murmured, just before it claimed him.

The next thing he was aware of was her nudging his shoulder gently.
"Al?" He felt her arms around his middle, hugging him from behind, and
he realized he was in bed. Given how exhausted he'd been, she'd probably
been able to lead him there like a zombie. He opened one eye slightly
and caught sight of the alarm clock: 0320. He groaned faintly. "Al?" she
repeated, "didn't you hear the alarm go off?"

"No," he answered honestly, nestling closer to her. He had no intentions
of getting up this early, either; when she'd promised Jeremy he'd call
him first thing in the morning, this wasn't what he had in mind.

"You insisted last night that you had to go see Sam at 3:30 AM," she
reminded him and his eyes snapped open as if a switch had been thrown.
"Are you going to go?"

He sat up quickly, startling her faintly, but then she released him and
curled up under the covers, closing her eyes slowly. He stared down at
her, amazed, and then moved stiffly, pulling himself off the bed.

"Tell him I said, `Hi'," she said sleepily without even opening her

He nodded, more to himself than to her, especially as she was already
almost back to sleep, and then leaned over and kissed her head softly.
Then he turned and fumbled his way out of the bedroom. Maybe she'd been
dreaming, maybe she'd...

He stared into the complete darkness - there were no windows, even, to
let starlight in. Hardly even daring to speak, he stood there, then
said, hoarsely, "Lights."

In immediate response to his command, the modest-sized quarters were
flooded with artificial lighting and now he knew it had to be true.

"Ye-es, Admiral?" she responded in sultry tones.

He shook his head in a vain effort to clear it. "What the hell is going
on, here?"

She sniffed. "Nothing all that interesting."

"What did he do?" he persisted. "Why am I here?"

"You work here," she reminded him with an audible pout. "May I remind
you that Dr. Beckett will be requiring your assistance shortly?"

"Okay, fine," he retorted, pulling on the robe draped over the chair,
"but then you and I are going to have a long talk!"

He made it a full two steps into the corridor before Ziggy floored him
for the second time. "He is now quite strenuously requesting your

Al's steps faltered and then stopped. "He's...requesting...? How?"

He could have sworn he heard her sigh. "Admiral, unless you desire him
to begin questioning your parentage..."

He shook himself free of the trance he was in. "Yeah...yeah, I'm
going..." Al walked slowly down the halls, his steps slowly steadying
with false confidence as he went. He wasn't sure exactly what had
happened, yet.

A familiar face with a name Al couldn't immediately identify was in the
Control Room. "The Imaging Chamber's online, Admiral," he informed him
in uncertain tones.

Al was about to ask if he was sure when a nudging instinct informed him
that the lack of conviction was a norm. Instead, he nodded and started
to head up the ramp, backtracking once to belatedly grab a handlink. The
Imaging Chamber Door slid open and he stepped into a smoky room filled
with people, champagne, and music. Patrons with cigarettes in hand
walked directly through him and he jumped, alarmed. It had been a long
time (or so it felt - it had actually been either just recently or not
at all, depending on how you looked at it) since he'd been a hologram.
His sudden desire to see Sam safe and sound overrode all apprehension
and he scanned his surroundings.

He was standing in the middle of a large room adorned with tables
drenched in dim candlelight. A bar stretched across the length of the
wall in front of him, and all around him the conversation buzzed into a
subdued drone. He gripped the handlink tightly. "Sam?" he called, half
expecting people to turn and look at him.

"Al," someone hissed and he spun and his eyes met with the form of his
friend, standing several feet away, beckoning discreetly but intensely.

Al moved to follow him as he ducked out of view of those around him.
"Sam," he gasped out, searching the physicist's face, "are you okay?"

Sam gave him a quizzical look. "Yeah, I'm fine - I just need Ziggy's

Al nodded absently and pulled the `link into his line of vision, trying
to hide how confused he was.

"What took you so long, anyhow," Sam resumed, faintly annoyed, "didn't
Ziggy tell you I was waiting and that Felicia was going to be here

*Which is the second mystery...* "Yeah, how did she know?"

All annoyance vanished from Sam's face, only to be replaced by a
cautious probing. "The same way she always does."

And then it hit him. "She read your thoughts." Sam didn't reply, but he
seemed to think this was the obvious answer. "It works..." Al suddenly
noticed the way he was being watched and he cleared his throat, once
again using the handlink to cover his fumblings. "Um, Ziggy says the
odds are...86.4% that you're supposed to ask Felicia to marry you - uh -
the guy you've leaped into..." He frowned as another thought struck him
and it was out before he could stop it. "Ziggy didn't tell you I was

Sam's expression soured vaguely. "She reads my thoughts, Al, I don't
read her memory banks."

Al rested his gaze on the flashing lights. "Oh..."

"Yeah, well, she's been here ten minutes already which is why I
needed..." Sam trailed off, trying to catch Al's eye and failing. "Al,
what's wrong?"

"What?" Al asked, trying to appear innocent.

"What's wrong?" Sam persisted.

"Oh, nothing, it's just..." His frown deepened and he couldn't hold back
the question anymore. "What did you do?"

"What did I do?" he echoed, then his expression turned guilty. "You
mean...about Beth?"

"No." Al shook his head and paced two full lengths in front of Sam, the
conflicting memories he had starting to confuse things. Surely, in this
timeline, they'd discussed that particular change already. Unless Sam'd
swiss-cheesed the conversation. "I mean about us."

"Us?" That seemed to sufficiently startle him.

"Yeah," Al clarified, almost angry with frustration. "Don't you..." He
stopped. "You don't, do you?"

"Don't what?"

"It's nothing." He would just have to get his answers from Ziggy, he

"Al, don't _what_?!"

"You don't remember what telling Beth about me did to my life - and
yours." He waved a hand through the air. "Well, it's not important," he
said with a feigned casual air, almost missing that Sam had just said
something. "What?"

Sam met his gaze, and the connection jolted Al down to his core. "I
said, I do, but I didn't think you would."

Al was aghast. "Then why did you pretend-"

"Al, when I changed history and then found you, I nearly destroyed your
life and if I just hadn't said anything..." He hung his head. "I didn't
want to make the same mistake twice. I thought all of your questions
were because you were still shaken about who I'd leaped into."

Al's focus suddenly shifted. "Who did you leap into?"

"Gerald Breslauer. Felicia is Meredith's mother. He did the same thing
on Project Quantum Leap in this history that he did to your project in
the other, so Ziggy was being really cautious about how to handle things
when I leaped in." Sam shook his head. "Wait a minute: you didn't
remember anything earlier in this leap. Or if you did, you didn't let

Al shrugged. "I don't even remember this leap."

Sam ran a hand across his face. "Well, if the physics has to be screwy
throughout all this, at least it's consistently screwy."

Al nodded absently. "So what did you do, Sam? What did you change?"

"I didn't want to change anything," he said quietly. "I was scared to. I
leaped into myself at Starbright in 1988, but you never directed the
project in the history with Beth - you were just on staff."

He nodded. At least that much he knew. "That's right."

"So at the time when, previously, I was trying to find you to ask you to
hear my theories on time travel, this time I was looking for the
director. And when family troubles were getting to be too much and you
were beating up on an innocent vending machine, I was in the director's
office talking to him about a proposal I didn't realize at the time he
was going to toss into the trash can the instant I walked out the door."
He shook his head. "So when I leaped in, I knew where I was, but I was
scared to do anything that could jeopardize your family. In the end,
though, I couldn't think what else I could possibly be there for and...I
needed you." He said the last as if he was ashamed of it. "The last
leaps after New York have been so hard, Al, and I-"

"They've been hard on me, too, kid," Al said gently. "I tried to find
you - I did, but Ziggy could never get a lock."

Sam couldn't help the rush of relief that flooded his expression. "Oh.
I'd thought maybe..."

"Maybe what?"

Sam shrugged. "Maybe you'd forgotten everything."

Al wondered if maybe it was that nagging fear that had made the leaps
hard. He also recalled Beth telling him that it was important that he
remembered. "No, Sam. I never forgot you."

Sam nodded, then jumped slightly. "Felicia! I've left her sitting there
all this time!"

"Is Meredith in North Carolina, or on Project Quantum Leap?" Al asked

Sam squinted. "Quantum Leap, I think, but I can't be positive. I'm still
adjusting to this timeline, too. But I think she was the reason I can
have a one-way correspondence with Ziggy."

"Oh, right, I'd forgotten about that. Well, I guess you get Felicia to
marry you, uh, Gerald, and we just hope Margaret doesn't pop out of

"Not likely," Sam countered, "she's already pregnant."

"And married?" He asked the question of Ziggy, but it was Sam who

"No. Originally, the guy proposes tomorrow."

"Oh." Al nodded absently.

"You know, Al, after I leap, I probably won't remember any of this. And,
in time, you probably won't, either."

Al laughed uneasily. "First good news I've heard today." He hesitated.
"Are you okay, Sam?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. All the big wrongs are right again, aren't they?" Al
grinned faintly. The leaper glanced around the corner, searching the
throng of people for one face. "I've kept her waiting way too long. I've
got to go propose."

"Good luck." Al lowered the `link and nodded, but neither of them moved
for another few seconds. "I'll get you home, Sam," he vowed suddenly,

Sam took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I believe you," he said,
and turned to wipe another mistake from the pages of history.