"Pieces" pt. XIV

May, 2002
Stallion's Gate, NM

  "Dr. Beckett."
  "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,
  "What do you want, Zig?" he asked without opening his eyes. "What time is
  "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?"
  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
  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
  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."
  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.
  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."