Project Quantum Leap
Minimum Security Level Commissary
“You’re going to do what?” Mulder managed to croak out.
Scully closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and opened them again, as if to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. “I’m going to Leap,” she repeated, her voice dull with her own still-partially-intact disbelief.
There was a moment of stunned silence, as Scully’s three companions tried to absorb the surprising statement. Once again, her partner found his voice first.
“Not without me, you’re not!”
Taking another deep breath, Scully shook her head. “Mulder, this is something I have to do. The last thing we need is to risk both of us getting stranded in the past–“
“Fine. Then I’ll Observe.” He turned defiant eyes to Al. “You weren’t planning to send her back there without an Observer, were you? Considering how much Sam depends on you…”
“Mulder, I’ve already done this in a previous timeline, and I did it that time without an Observer–“
“But in that timeline you were reliving something you’d experienced,” Al reminded her quietly.
“Al, I can’t. I can’t let him see that–“
“See what?” Mulder demanded. “What is there that I could possibly see that would be worse than some of the things we’ve already seen?”
The calm certainty in his partner’s eyes when they met his was something he’d never seen before in quite this context. “Your own death,” she replied softly.
For a moment, Mulder was surprised into silence by her words. My own death…in a previous timeline, I died, and Scully went back in time to save me?
“He’s right about one thing–we can’t send you back without an Observer,” Al admitted.
“I’m not saying it should be him. If by some chance you didn’t succeed, I don’t know what kind of problems that would cause…” The Admiral turned to the two reporters. “Lois?”
“No.” Mulder’s voice was firm. “Scully, I’m sorry, but it has to be me…” his voice trailed off, uncertain of how to explain his conviction.
He didn’t need to. The red-haired woman across from him watched him silently for a moment, their eyes locked in wordless communication, then conceded with a nod. “You’re right. We’re partners–it wouldn’t be right if it were anyone else…just in case I do get stuck back there.”
“Are you sure?” Al asked uneasily.
She nodded.. “Sam’s your best friend, right?” was the simple reply.
The Admiral inclined his head in comprehension. “Just let me check one last thing first…” He glanced upwards. “Ziggy?”
“Yes, Admiral?” the computer’s voice came again.
“Can you establish a neural link between these two by tomorrow morning?”
“I don’t know,” she replied honestly. “Especially without the implants, but I will do my best. Should I inform Doctors Gushman and Martinez-O’Farrell?”
Al nodded. “Tell Gooshie it’s urgent.”
“Very well, Admiral.”
The Project Observer turned back to Scully, smiling wryly at her. “Well, while we’re trying to get that worked out…” He nodded in Mulder’s direction. “Maybe you’d better let him hear that tape.”
June 11, 2000
Admiral Albert Calavicci rubbed his forehead in frustration. This Leap had been going progressively out of control ever since Sam had made the mistake of handing the precious tape over to Lois Lane in Metropolis. Now, Sam/Mack was back in DC, and had gone back to work as if nothing had happened, but he hadn’t Leaped, Abruzzi’s threat hadn’t disappeared, and things were just generally very tense. It didn’t help any to learn that apparently Agents Mulder and Scully had gone to Metropolis the same day that Lois was given the tape, and all four had since hopped a plane to New Mexico.
Mulder and Scully. Al allowed himself the luxury of a brief smile as he recalled the two (or was it three altogether if he counted Sam’s unexpected escapade during his Leap into Harlan Yates a few months ago?) previous encounters they’d had with the agents. His memory had yet to catch up with all the changes made involving the two, and if Ziggy was correct, he’d have more to deal with the next time he came out of the Imaging Chamber.
Sam, how do you manage to get yourself into so much trouble? the Admiral found himself wondering. Couldn’t you have just destroyed the tape like I asked you to, instead of listening to that weird hunch of yours?
He remembered the comment he’d made to Donna three days ago–“It’ll be a lot more complicated than we originally thought, I expect. But we’ll do it. Somehow.” Complicated had turned out to be an understatement, and he was beginning to wonder if things wouldn’t work themselves out after all.
“Ziggy, where exactly is the fearsome foursome now?” he asked wearily.
“They are at Project Quantum Leap, four years, four months, and fifteen days in our past, according to my latest information.”
“Can you center me on them, so I can at least find out what’s going on?”
There was a moment of silence as the computer considered Al’s proposal. “I believe so. It is a much further distance from Dr. Beckett’s actual location than I have ever been previously asked to find a lock, but it could probably be managed, especially since they are at the Project. It would be a weak lock, though, and most likely unstable.”
Al pondered, turning over the possibilities in his mind. “What if I got Sam to go there? Would that enable you to get a better lock?”
“If you persuaded Dr. Beckett to go to New Mexico, I would probably be able to maintain a forty-percent clearer lock on Ms. Lane and her companions. If he were actually IN the Project Complex, I would have no trouble with it at all.”
The Admiral nodded decisively. “I’ll go see Sam right now. As long as he could slip in and out of the complex without anyone but you, and maybe me, knowing about it, we shouldn’t have to worry about anyone getting discouraged by finding out he’ll still be Leaping four years in their future.” Which is what he did on that Yates Leap… He stood, reaching for the handlink that had been lying on his desk.
“Admiral, there is one thing I must ask…”
“How do you plan for Dr. Beckett to explain and afford flying to New Mexico on a janitor’s salary?”
Al hesitated, a guilty look sweeping over his face. “I don’t know,” he replied sincerely, “but Sam and I are going to need a couple of weeks at LEAST to straighten this guy’s life out again when this is over.”
“That was you??”
Scully fought not to laugh at the stunned, incredulous look on her partner’s face as the recording concluded. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look quite that surprised before… she speculated. Certainly not because of anything I said.
“*You* were Carmen Juarez?” Mulder repeated, still trying to reconcile what he had just learned with his memory of the young psychic. He blushed, remembering some of the shameless flirting he’d done, and how puzzled he’d been by her knowingly amused reaction. Not that he didn’t flirt with his partner, but that was different… I can’t believe I made such a fool of myself…
At that moment, Al walked in. The two agents turned to him, Mulder feeling very relieved that the chances of Scully asking about his memories of Carmen Juarez had just gone down.
“How’s the link coming?” Scully asked. She was still edgy about the whole business, although she had accepted it logically now. Thankfully she was not the kind of person to deny what was right in front of her eyes, at least not once every other explanation had been exhausted.
“Ziggy’s using the encephalographs we took of your brain waves to set the Imaging Chamber but she keeps reminding us that the link is more likely to be unstable without the implants’ electronic signature…”
Scully grimaced. “Can she do it?”
“Actually, there’s a very good chance it will work. Ziggy did comment that she hasn’t seen two minds as much on the same wavelength already since me and Sam.” He smiled wryly. “You see, Sam used to call the neural link ‘induced telepathy’ partly because it works best on people who know each other so well they’re practically telepathic already.”
“So, how soon will it be ready?”
“If things keep going smoothly, we’ll be ready to fire up the Accelerator tomorrow morning, as planned.”
The agent nodded, sighing deeply. I keep wondering when I’m going to wake up, she thought ironically to herself. But it’s real, just like all the other nightmares we’ve had to face in the last two and a half years… She glanced over at her partner, the man who was at the same time her greatest comfort and greatest frustration.
But at least we’ll face it together.