Project Quantum Leap
Scully gasped as the walls of the Accelerator materialized around her. She stumbled, one hand automatically going to her chest to search for the bullet hole that wasn’t there.
He shot me, she thought in disbelief. He must have–he had a clear shot when I pushed Mulder out of the way… A wave of panic swept over her at the thought of her partner.
“Mulder!” she called loudly. Oh, God, what if Heinrich just shot him again after I Leaped?? What if–
The door slid open. “Scully?” Mulder asked, his voice full of concern.
With a cry of relief, she threw herself into her partner’s arms, holding him tighter than she had since the day he’d rescued her from Donnie Pfaster. Just as before, thankful tears began to stream down her face, only this time they were for his safety, not hers.
Mulder ran one shaking hand through her hair, brushing it back from her now-damp face.
“Thanks, partner,” he whispered.
For a few moments, she just stood there, letting him hold her, letting the fact that he was alive sink in and become real to her senses.
Then, suddenly, Scully sucked her breath in sharply, an intense sorrow coming into her eyes. Mulder closed his own eyes in silent acknowledgment of what he knew to be wrong.
“Melissa…” his partner whispered softly, her voice cracking slightly. “Oh, God, Mulder. I could have saved Missy…she believed in psychics, if I’d told her not to go over to my apartment that night, she would have believed me…”
Mulder was silent, not sure how to reply… Why hadn’t he told her? Was it because they hadn’t gone back far enough for him to also save Samantha, and he didn’t want Scully to be able to have her sister back if he couldn’t have his? It was just the sort of selfish thing he would do…
The woman beside him saw what was passing through his mind as quickly as he had seen her memory return.
“Mulder, this isn’t your fault. If anyone’s to blame, it’s me for not remembering my own sister…”
“You weren’t allowed to tell her anything she didn’t remember on her own,” Al reminded him from where he was standing just outside the door.
It took a few long moments, but eventually Mulder nodded. “I just wish I’d thought to tell you…”
But then something else about Melissa’s death clicked in Scully’s mind. “What about Carmen?” she asked urgently. “Did she get shot when I Leaped?”
Hearing the worry in her voice, and knowing the source of it, Mulder lifted the handlink and prodded it a little, his face relaxing as he read the screen. “Nope. According to this, the only injury she suffered was a concussion from smacking her head on the floor a little too hard. She didn’t remember anything about what had happened though.”
Scully closed her eyes in relief. Thank God–no one else had died in her place.
Al chuckled. “That’s often the case, that they don’t remember. At least this one had a good excuse.” He took a deep breath. “I’ll go let Kent know you’re back, so we can get rid of the tape.”
“Get rid of it? Why?” Scully frowned, glancing up at her partner in surprise when he voiced no objection.
Al looked at Mulder too. “I thought you were going to tell her about that part.”
“I didn’t really get a chance–things started going rather berserk the moment I got there.”
“You didn’t get a chance to tell me about what?”
Within a few words, Mulder managed to explain what had been going on in the present (and/or future) during her absence. Once he was finished, Al turned to Ziggy’s CPU.
“Ziggy, have Kent and Lane come down here–“
“They are on their way, Admiral. However, destroying the tape is no longer entirely necessary.”
Al frowned. “What do you mean?”
“I’ve just spoken with Dr. Beckett–apparently the threat of blackmail disappeared a moment ago.”
“How can that be?” the Admiral asked, confused. “We haven’t done anything about it yet.”
“Agent Scully has.”
“Apparently the man ultimately responsible for the threat was arrested by your past counterpart, Agent Scully.”
“Wait–” Al interrupted, still lost. “I thought the blackmailer’s name was Abruzzi, not Heinrich.”
“It was. But, according to Dr. Beckett, Abruzzi’s intent in blackmailing the Project was to force us to kill the man he felt was responsible for ruining his life. That man was Carl Heinrich.”
The three looked at each other in astonishment.
“What exactly DID happen to Heinrich?” Scully finally asked.
“As I said, he was arrested by your past counterpart. However, before he could go to trial, he apparently hung himself in his jail cell.”
Mulder’s face darkened. “Yeah, I’ll bet he hung himself,” he muttered angrily. His partner’s eyes met his and she nodded wisely.
Heinrich hadn’t committed suicide–he had been punished for his failure, and in the process, prevented from ever revealing who he had been working for.
Just then, the door of the elevator slid open, revealing Lois, Clark, and an older man who the two agents recognized as Mack Sherman.
“So, what do we do now?” Clark asked, walking up to Al. “Do you still want us to get rid of this?”
He held up the tape reel.
“You know what happened?” Al guessed.
Lois nodded. “Sam told us.” She pointed to the janitor.
Al turned to the other man, smiling sadly. “So, you’re still with us…”
Sam/Mack nodded. “There’s one more thing I think I have to do before I Leap.”
“And what’s that?”
The physicist sighed. “I made a few decisions on this Leap that Mack Sherman is going to be held responsible for. He may run the risk of losing his job once it’s discovered that ‘he’ used my clearance to steal classified items regarding a Top Secret black project. He doesn’t deserve that, but I don’t know what to do.”
The two agents frowned sympathetically. They’d both had their jobs and lives threatened on numerous occasions for finding out what they weren’t supposed to, so they knew Sam’s concern was serious.
“Wait a second…” All eyes turned to Mulder. “What if you hired him?” he asked Al. “He can’t get into trouble for knowing about the Project if he works for it, can he?”
The Admiral’s eyes widened. “That might work…”
A broad smile spread slowly over Sam’s face. “It will,” he added quietly.
Al’s head snapped in the direction of his friend.
Sherman’s form slumped a little, then the old janitor looked up at his companions with a confused look on his face.
Al’s eyes were the only part of him that revealed his disappointment. If only he’d had a little more warning that Sam was going to Leap…
“I’m sorry…” Mack began hesitantly, glancing over at Mulder and Scully as if for support. “…but this old brain of mine gets a little fuzzy sometimes–where am I?”
Al forced a smile. “You’re interviewing for a position here. But don’t worry–we don’t take off points for poor memory. Some of our top people have that problem.”
The other four did their best to disguise the smirks the comment elicited.
“Here,” Al suggested, beginning to steer the older man towards the elevator. “Take this up one level and go all the way down the hall until you get to an office with ‘Admiral Albert Calavicci’ on the door. That’s my office–I’ll meet you up there as soon as I finish up some business with these guys.”
Mack nodded, even though he still looked confused. “All right.” He glanced back over his shoulder before stepping into the elevator. “See you later, Agent Mulder, Agent Scully.”
They waved at the departing figure.
“Well,” Al commented, turning back to the two reporters and two agents. “I’m assuming I can count on the four of you to keep this quiet? Our existence depends on secrecy, and we can’t bring Sam home if we don’t exist.”
Mulder smiled. “Well, since there’s no EBEs here, I think I can let it go.”
“Extraterrestrial Biological Entities,” he replied.
“Mulder is obsessed with UFOs,” Scully added dryly.
“Huh. Well, if I ever see one, I’ll be sure to let you know.”
“In the meantime, what do we do with this?” Lois asked, pointing to the tape. “And the other handlink we found?”
Al hesitated. “Well, I know Ziggy said earlier she wants to hang on to the other handlink…” he smiled. “She claims it’ll save us having to build another one after it gets lost.”
“And the tape?”
Clark nodded and dropped the tape to the floor. Then, he pulled his glasses a little way down the bridge of his nose and stared at it until it burst into flames.
Al jumped a little and swore at this. Lois shot her fiancé a questioning look.
The reporter shrugged. “I thought it was only fair–you shared so many of your secrets with us without any choice in the matter, but you still have to trust us to keep them…”
The Admiral nodded, gratefully. Yes, these four would definitely keep Project Quantum Leap a secret–apparently they all had a lot of practice in that regard.
He turned back to Scully. “Well, I guess all that’s left is to get you out of that Fermisuit…”
Mulder chortled. Al grinned lasciviously upon realizing how the comment could be taken, and winked at the exasperated female agent. “And back into your regular clothes, unless you’d rather try something else…”
“Not with either of you,” she retorted, grinning in spite of herself.
The two men chuckled, and Al shrugged. “You’re right–Tina probably wouldn’t be to happy with me if I carried through on that offer, after all–but it never hurts to try.”
“You know,” Scully commented softly. “I wish I’d actually had a chance to speak with Sam.”
“Why’s that?” Al asked.
She smiled. “We apparently have a few things in common–I’m an MD as well, and my undergraduate degree was in physics.”
The Observer nodded. “Yeah, I imagine you two could have found a few things to talk about. Maybe once he comes home, you’ll get that chance.”
By some silent agreement, the group began to move towards the elevator. “Well, gang, I’d love to say you were welcome to come back any time,” Al remarked as the doors closed behind them. “But somehow I don’t think the Committee would like that…”