Fic: A Novel Solution part 1/10 (QL/TS, gen)

Project Quantum Leap
June 8, 2000

White…cold…sterile…

These words gradually filtered into his disoriented brain as he struggled to absorb his surroundings.

He was in a large room, almost totally barren of furniture except for a narrow metal table or cot–he wasn’t quite sure which it was. The walls were a sleek, gleaming metal, impervious to any sound or smell that might try to penetrate them. The entire ceiling glowed with light from an indeterminable source. Bright light. Cool light. Soft light, minimizing the shadows around him. There was only one door into the room, a metal panel that seemed to lack both hinges and doorknob, making escape impossible.

Escape…

As awareness slowly increased, he studied himself. He was barefoot, clad only in a skin-tight white jumpsuit that covered him from ankles to wrists to chin. The fabric seemed to glow in the steady, unflickering light from above.

White…cold…sterile…

The silent mantra in his brain repeated again. Like a hospital. Or a prison. Or a lab.

Oh God…

Even as his comprehension of his present circumstances increased, with it came the terrifying awareness that his past was riddled with holes. He couldn’t remember his mother’s name, or her face. He couldn’t remember where he lived, or what he had gotten for his last birthday. He couldn’t even remember when his birthday was. Most terrifying of all, he couldn’t remember how he’d come to this place or where he’d been before he woke up here.

One thing he did remember though. He remembered that there was a man he was supposed to protect and support.

And he knew, if he was in a prison or a lab, that he had failed that man. His brother. His friend. His partner.

“Oh, God, Jim,” he murmured. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry!”

-8-

Admiral Al Calavicci took a deep breath as he stood outside the door of the Waiting Room. It was something he did every time, a sort of routine that was the only thing besides his military training that kept him from crying every time the door slid open to reveal a face other than Sam Beckett’s.

Well, at least I see them now, he admitted silently. Those first Leaps…the false hope almost killed me.

Sufficiently in control to face whatever–or whoever–awaited him, he called out, “Okay, Gooshie.”

The door opened to reveal the frightened face of a long-haired, blue-eyed young man slightly shorter than the Admiral himself. His countenance was as pale as a wraith and his eyes darted over the gleaming white dress uniform with increasing nervousness.

Steeling himself again, Al stepped through the door.

Almost immediately, the Visitor changed. He launched himself at the older man, wild not with fury but with grief and fear.

“Where is he?” he demanded in a hurt, angry voice, even as the two MPs pulled him away from the startled Admiral. “What have you done to him? Oh, God…”

“Hey, careful!” Al barked at the two bulldogs, alarmed by their rough grip on the kid. Nightmarish images of Leon Stiles flashed through his mind. “What have I told you about jeopardizing this Project?”

His words only seemed to make the young man more agitated. The Visitor’s eyes flared like the blue aura of a Leap. “Damn you!” he swore vehemently. “Damn you all to hell!”

-8-

Cascade, Washington
May 24, 1999

“…only wish you had given us a chance to read it first.”

Sam Beckett blinked in disorientation at the woman across from him, behind a large desk in an imposing office, then at the gray-haired man standing beside her, who had just spoken. The moment when he first Leaped in was always a headache, but he hated being caught halfway through a sentence. Before he could sputter out a reply, though, the woman pressed one finger on the button of an intercom.

“Please send them in,” she instructed.

Another female voice caught his ears as the door opened. “Sid, you can’t go through with this.”

“We’re on a roll, Naomi,” was the only reply from the man with her.

Still bewildered, Sam turned to see who was speaking. A man, an unhappy-looking woman, and a camera crew poured into the office.

“Sid, I don’t want you to until…”

The Leaper finally found his voice. “Wh-what’s going on?”

The woman called Naomi looked at him, her expression hovering between pride, embarrassment and shame. “Uh, uh…Blair, this is Sid Graham.”

Great, at least I know my name now.

“He flew all the way from New York. I wanted him to meet with you alone first but he…”

Sid interrupted. “Blair, I’m determined to publish your book.”

My book?

“Berkshire Publishing is offering you one million dollars and I’ve already had inquiries from several studios for the movie rights.”

Sam stammered in surprise. “A movie, that’s…incredible.”

Sid beamed. “There’s more, but I agreed to let the TV crew handle that.”

A reporter pushed forward, shoving a microphone under his nose. “We’ve been informed that due to the efforts of your mother, Naomi, the Nobel Prize committee is considering your research for its science award.”

“Another one?” the physicist murmured softly. And since when did the Nobel committee give out a science award? Last he knew, they were still handing out several awards for the sciences, in various fields. Physics being only one.

“What was that, Mr. Sandburg?”

Right. Sam Beckett had a Nobel Prize. Blair Sandburg probably didn’t. He glanced at the camera crew. At least…he didn’t yet.

“Nobel, that’s, uh, that’s unbelievable.” He looked over at Naomi, who the reporter had called his mother. “Excuse me. Uh…Mom?”

Drawing her into a corner of the office, he was suddenly seized with the realization that he had no idea what to say to her. He couldn’t just flat out ask what the hell was going on, because Blair probably knew.

“Mom…” he started lamely.

Apparently it was enough, because Naomi began to babble an apology. “Oh, Blair, I’m sorry, honey. I-I did this before you told me not to do anything and then all I did was…I talked to Lars when he called.”

Sam blinked. “Lars? Who’s Lars?”

“Lars. Lars. He’s the masseur for one of the members of the committee. I asked him only to slip…”

The Leaper’s stomach turned cold. From Naomi’s behavior, he got a sudden, strong impression that as positive as the media attention seemed to be, it was seriously unwanted. “Stop, please. I–”

Naturally, the reporter chose that moment to butt in again. “Would you say you’re overwhelmed?” he asked.

Sam shook his head at the understatement, shrinking away from the cameras. “I…I have nothing to say.” He couldn’t very well give an interview when he had no idea what he was being interviewed about.

“But…” the reporter began.

Naomi looked about ready to cry. “Blair, Blair, I…Oh, I’m sorry.”

Beyond overwhelmed, six-time-Doctor Sam Beckett fled with Naomi Sandburg in pursuit. Amazingly, the camera crew didn’t follow.

“Damn it, Al,” the Leaper hissed as he tried to find an escape route among the maze of hallways outside the office he’d just left. “Where the hell are you?”

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